First and foremost, we have to remember that we are Americans. We've lost that identity.U.S. Senate hopeful Congressman Doug Collins
SPRINGFIELD — The fractured nature of American politics pains Ninth District Congressman Doug Collins. The Republican U.S. Senate hopeful voiced his concerns about the situation during a Sept. 9 campaign stop at The Local on Laurel.
“First and foremost, we have to remember that we are Americans,” Collins said. “We’ve lost that identity. We’ve gone into identities that ‘I’m this’ and ‘I’m that,’ but the bottom line — under the Constitution — is that we are all Americans. That’s something that we’ve got to get back to.
“As someone who swore an oath in our military and is still in the military, that’s the most undergirding problem. We come from all different backgrounds to fight for the same purpose and that’s freedom, personal liberty and responsibility. Those are the things that we take on in America and we’ve got to get back to that.
“We all have responsibilities to ourselves and the person next to us. When we start doing that, we will get back to where we need to be.”
A chaplain with the rank of lieutenant colonel in the Air Force Reserve, Collins is bothered by the relentless rioting and looting in many large cities. He is also angered by the treatment of law enforcement officers in some areas.
“As a former state trooper’s kid, it is appalling to me,” he said. “If these liberal mayors and governors want to ride around in a patrol car for three or four months and then decide they want defund the police, fine! Other than that, shut up!”
Collins, who has been crisscrossing the state for months, said public safety is rising as an issue for Georgia voters.
“They are concerned about our standing in the world and the attacks on civil society as we know it,” he said. “People who do wrong should be punished. If it is a police officer who does wrong, punish them but do not go at the basic fiber of our society.
“Right now, it just seems that the left is attacking us from sides that we’ve never seen before because they don’t like the narrative. They want to be in control and they want the government to be in control. That is not the narrative of America.”
Collins is one of 21 candidates looking to win a special general election for the seat formerly held by Johnny Isakson. Isakson retired in December 2019 with more than two years left in his fourth term.
The only requirement to enter the race — commonly called a “jungle primary” — was the payment of a $5,220 qualifying fee. If a candidate doesn’t get more than 50 percent of the votes, the top two finishers, regardless of their party affiliation, will advance to a runoff election to be held Jan. 5. 2021.
Despite the presence of so many candidates, Collins is focusing the bulk of his attention on wealthy businesswoman Kelly Loeffler. She currently holds the seat after being appointed to it on an interim basis by Gov. Brian Kemp. She has been serving since January.
“I’m not reinventing myself,” said Collins, who represents the Ninth District in the House of Representatives. Unfortunately in this campaign, we have some reinventing going on.”
Collins vociferously disputes Loeffler’s claim that she is pro-life. He said the WNBA team she owns in Atlanta hosted a fundraiser for Planned Parenthood in 2018.
“She was at the ball game,” he said. “She can’t deny that it happened. That paid for probably 1,400 abortions.”
Collins also took a shot at Loeffler’s history with the Second Amendment. She recently appeared in a TV commercial wearing hunting attire but she doesn’t have a hunting license.
“Again, the Loeffler that we used to know is the one who worked with Michael Bloomberg on his gun control agenda,” Collins said. “That is not somebody who will protect your Second Amendment rights.”
Collins also blasted the use of an old photo of him with Democrat Stacey Abrams in TV commercials.
“Yes, I worked with Stacey Abrams (in the Georgia House of Representatives),” he said. “We took that photo right after the HOPE Scholarship was saved (in 2011). I guess (Loeffler) wouldn’t have voted for the HOPE Scholarship.
“I guess when you have plenty of money you don’t need it but Georgians do.”
Collins said use of the depiction of the legislative triumph in the commercial is hypocritical.
“Stacey Abrams worked for her basketball team,” he said. “She was general counsel. While I was out helping Brian Kemp get elected governor, Kelly was on the basketball court honoring Stacey Abrams as a Woman of Distinction.
“That is while Abrams was running for governor (against Kemp).”
Collins, a ardent defender of President Trump during the impeachment hearings early this year, said Loeffler took a conservative turn after his arrival in the race.
“I am the only one who is actually tested, who is proven and who has actually been there and doing it for a long time,” Collins said. “I’m someone who stood up for this president and this administration, and actually gotten things done.”
Collins authored the First Step Act, a major piece of criminal justice reform legislation that Trump signed into law in 2018. It is designed to reduce recidivism and decrease America’s prison population.
“I have already proven in the House what Georgians need in the Senate,” he said. “They need a voice to stand up against what is going on in our communities and our world. We need to fight for the values that matter — the values of Georgia.”