Bobby Saxon, the Democratic candidate for the 10th congressional district seat currently held by Paul Broun Jr., attended our Watkinsville City Council meeting tonight. I had heard about Saxon from some folks, but had not met him yet.
We talked briefly prior to the meeting, and then again afterward. Based on what he told me, I came right out and asked him the obvious -- if you favor a strong national defense, are conservative on most values-based issues, and frequently disagree with the national party, why are you running as a Democrat? He explained that he grew up poor, goes to church and feels it is his duty to take care of the poor, and that Republicans aren't committed to assisting the poor at all.
"The Democrats don't make the distinction between those who are poor and those who are sorry, and that is too bad," he said. He added that at least they are considering the poor at all.
I can respect that reasoning, even if I don't totally agree with it. We had a wide ranging coversation; some highlights below:
- We discussed the idea that sometimes in politics, pragmatism has to triumph over principle in order to accomplish anything.
- When asked about his favorite past politicians, he listed folks like Lincoln, Reagan, Jefferson, and Sam Nunn.
- He is an Oconee County native (grew up on Flat Rock Road). Lives in Jackson County now. Has been a small business owner.
- He has served our nation for 8 years as an enlisted man. He has had an overseas tour of duty and has worked in the Pentagon. After 9/11 he gave up a lucrative business to re-enlist as a reservist and has been stationed in Baghdad. He has had top-secret security clerance and seemed very up to date on national security issues.
- Sees immigration as a homeland security issue.
- Supports drilling and a strong alternative fuels effort to end dependence on foreign oil.
Then I hopped in my car and noticed an e-mail -- apparently Rep. Broun announced today that he is unwilling to debate Saxon in Athens or anywhere else in the district, apparently. This is just weak. I guess there is just too much baggage to contend with, and perhaps a front runner doesn't feel the need to debate what many perceive as a long-shot challenger. If you ask me, if you believe in what you stand for and are representing our district in Washington, you shouldn't be afraid to put it on the line, whether it is against an opponent in a debate or with anyone else, regardless of the setting.
If Saxon can meet enough people in the district between now and November to overcome his lack of media dollars, and if there is a strong Democratic push as a result of the Obama energy, this could be a race. Saxon makes a good first impression and is going to appeal to a lot of conservative to moderate folks in the district, especially those who pay attention and have concerns about whether Broun's ultra-principled but ultra-conservative approach in office is indeed what is in the best interest of this district.