Polls will be open today from 7 a.m.-7 p.m.
Races to be decided are as follows:
Secretary of State
Effingham County Board of Commissioners
Public Service Commissioner, District 2
Ray McKinney and Carl Smith want to unseat incumbent John Barrow as Georgia’s 12th District representative in Congress, but one of them needs to win the Aug. 10 runoff first.
The two GOP hopefuls laid out how they would try to beat Barrow, a three-term incumbent.
Smith said the Republican candidate needs to be able to reach across the aisle in order to win the slightly Democratic-leaning district.
“The reality is we got to get the Republicans out to vote, and we got to bridge the gap with Democrats and independents to win this race,” Smith said.
McKinney said the focus needs to be getting the message out to the blue-collar workers and the 40 percent of the district’s voters who are registered independent but have supported Barrow in previous elections.
“We can wave the flag all we want, and we can talk about the problems that are out there, but we need a candidate that can tell them what the solutions are and who actually has the experience to implement those solutions,” McKinney said.
Smith said people are looking for public service and want a candidate who is going to pick up the phone and address their concerns when they call.
“I think people in this country are tired of professional politicians who run for office over and over … they’re tired of career candidates. People want public servants,” Smith said. “They want someone who’s going to DC and worry about them and not special interests.”
McKinney said he wants to take the common sense lessons he learned in the private sector to Washington, where he would understand the ramifications of passing certain legislation.
“I do come from a background where you worked and produced a product, even if it was with my own hands,” McKinney said. “That’s what we need in Washington: people who understand what it is like back here on the farm and in the shops.”
A member of the audience asked the candidates what they each were doing to attract independent voters. Smith said the best way to get people to trust a candidate is to go out, meet them and listen to their concerns.
“I don’t think we can just count on anti-incumbent and anti-Democrat vote. I believe you going to have to have a way to get people to trust you and earn their vote,” Smith said. “I think you gotta give somebody a reason to vote for something, not just a reason to vote against someone.”
McKinney said that despite the large number of district residents registering as independents and Democrats, many of those individuals actually have conservative values.
“Forty percent of this district calls themselves independent but I can tell you when you meet these people they’re actually fairly conservative,” McKinney said. “Once they realize there is a true conservative running, we can get their support.”