By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
GOP hopefuls sound call for energy independence
forum 2
GOP 12th U.S. House District candidate Maria Sheffield states her positions as fellow candidate Wright McLeod listens. Sheffield, McLeod, Lee Anderson and Rick Allen are vying for the nomination. - photo by Photo by Paul Floeckher

About the candidates

To learn more about the candidates:

Rick Allen:

Lee Anderson:

Wright McLeod:

Maria Sheffield:

With gas prices in Georgia averaging nearly $3.60 a gallon, it was no surprise that U.S. energy policies were discussed in Thursday’s 12th Congressional District candidate forum in Springfield.

Sponsored by the Effingham County Tea Party, the forum brought together the four Republican candidates seeking to unseat Democrat John Barrow in November.

Each candidate — Augusta businessman Rick Allen, Grovetown farmer and state representative Lee Anderson, Augusta lawyer and retired Navy pilot Wright McLeod and Dublin lawyer Maria Sheffield – gave a response indicating the U.S. has the resources to be energy independent.

"If the government would get out of the way, we would never have tobuy another barrel of oil from another country," said Anderson. "It’s time to get the regulations and mandates off our businesspeople and let them create more energy."

Sheffield went a step farther, describing energy independence as "a matter of national security. The number of barrels that we import into this country every day … think about how many of those barrels come from countries that, frankly, don’t like us very much."

Allen voiced support for drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and building the proposed Keystone pipeline from Canada to the Gulf, but, "more than that, what Washington needs to do is incentivize businesses to explore and to come up with ways to produce energy."

McLeod stated that natural gas will be a "huge player" and nuclear power "is in our future," but he stopped short of agreeing with Allen’s incentive plan. "To me, giving tax breaks and loopholes means my money is going to somebody that I don’t like it to," McLeod said.

Asked about the biggest problem facing the 12th District, each candidate gave an answer pertaining to job creation and the economy. Their responses, in part:

McLeod: "A $16 trillion deficit is an enemy. Every year in the foreseeable future, it’s going to go up in excess of another trillion dollars, unless something changes."

Sheffield: "When you get to Washington, it’s not your job to create jobs. But it is your job to make sure that we’re not over-regulating businesses and farmers."

Voters will go to the polls July 31 for the partisan primaries. If no candidate gets a majority of the votes cast, a runoff will be held Aug. 21. The Republican nominee will face Barrow on Nov. 6.

Anderson: "In Washington, I would find companies and businesses that want to locate in the United States. I will sell District 12 as the greatest area in the country to move to and create jobs."

Allen: "I have created a lot of jobs. I have worked … to bring industry to the 12th District. I have recruited industry; I know how competitive it is."

The forum featured very little debate, other than a brief exchange between McLeod and Allen on the merits of what has been called the fair tax.

"The goal of the national sales tax is to broaden the tax base and bring those 50 percent who are currently paying little to nothing into the tax-paying structure," McLeod said.

"It’s actually not a sales tax," Allen countered. "It’s a tax on goods and services that is then passed onto the consumer. The tax is actually paid by the businesses."

"That’s just not true," McLeod said, before the moderator moved on to the next question.

The four candidates shared many of the same views, such as being fiscally conservative, wanting to reform the current tax code and stressing the importance of family and faith. All shared the belief that Obamacare is unconstitutional and agreed that the federal Department of Education should be eliminated.