The seven remaining GOP Candidates for U.S. Senate traveled to Brenau University in Gainesville to debate. Before we tell you what happened, let’s give you the all important straw poll results.
Karen Handel: 129
Jack Kingston: 97
Paul Broun: 76
David Perdue: 47
Other/Undecided Art Gardner: 28
Derrick Grayson: 24
Phil Gingrey: 21
State School Superintendent:
Ashley Bell: 123
Nancy Jester: 61
Richard Woods: 30
Fritz Johnson: 13
Kira Willis: 8
Nathan Deal: 260
David Pennington: 59
John Barge: 16
** Update from Jon ** We have learned that the “Other/Undecided” votes referenced in the tweet and reported in the results were actually write-in votes for Art Gardner. This is now reflected in the vote count above. We regret the error, and blame others.
The Gainesville Times was on hand to report on what they actually said:
The candidates’ opening statements revealed just how important it’s becoming for them to differentiate their campaigns from the crowded field as the primary approaches.
Karen Handel recounted her experience serving as Georgia’s secretary of state, explaining that she has the necessary chops and experience to change Washington while remaining distant from the partisanship that has crippled the nation’s capital.
“Results matter and records count,” she said repeatedly.
U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston of Savannah, answering to charges of being a Washington insider, claimed his bona fides as a homespun Georgia boy taught the lessons of fiscal and personal responsibility, trademarks phrases sure to get Republican voters enthused.
“I’m here because the American dream is in peril,” he said. “I work hard to fight bureaucratic overreach.”
District 10 U.S. Rep. Paul Broun of Athens made no apologies for his time spent in Washington, often shouting into the microphone about his determination to fight Democrats at every level, on every issue.
“It’s definitely my strict constitutionalist views about the proper role of the federal government” that separate him from the other candidates, he said.
District 11 Rep. Phil Gingrey of Marietta laid out his case in no uncertain terms, hoping to ride the wave of anti-Washington populism coursing through much of the GOP electorate.
“I am a career physician,” he said. “I am not a career politician.”
Businessman David Perdue also claimed the mantle of a political outsider while delineating his campaign from the others in one remark.
“If we want different results from Washington, we need to send a different kind of person to Washington,” he said.
Derrick Grayson, a minister from Atlanta, used his booming voice and rhetorical cache to woo the audience in his favor.
The pre-eminent underdog in the race, Grayson attacked the political elites in the campaign for selling out the country.
“I’m not going to talk about me because I’m really not that important,” he said. “What is important is our constitution, our liberties and our freedoms.”
Art Gardner is in many ways the truest of outsiders in the field. A patent attorney, Gardner positioned himself as the clear alternative to a group of candidates that have name-brand recognition.
“I’m going to tell you things that the other candidates are not going to say,” he said. “I’m the only candidate on this stage who has the courage to say that our party needs to go in a new direction.”