For the next five months-plus, Jack Kingston will have a job to do. And we expect him to do it the same way and in the same manner he has approached it for the previous 21 ½ years.
Kingston’s lengthy political career appeared to have ended, for now, Tuesday night, when he conceded his U.S. Senate race to businessman David Perdue.
Kingston supplanted another popular congressman for the 1st District seat, winning the 1992 election to replace Lindsay Thomas. As a sign of how popular he was, and perhaps how effective a campaigner as well, Kingston averaged 68.8 percent of the vote in his 10 re-election bids.
There was little doubt he would have breezed back into Congress, had he chosen to seek re-election for his House seat. But he saw the Senate as a chance to make a much larger impact and a bigger difference and declared his candidacy for the post Saxby Chambliss decided to give up.
Of the 435 members of the U.S. House, Kingston is in the top 60 for seniority. Among Georgia’s delegation — there were just 11 districts when he was first elected and now there are 14 — only John Lewis, who was at the front of the civil rights movement in the 1960s, and Sanford Bishop currently have represented Georgia longer than Kingston has.
The redistricting process has had Effingham in, out and in the 1st District. In the far-flung district, from southern Effingham, down the coast and over to Lowndes County, Kingston has been a constant visitor and traveler. The Senate campaign took him from Rabun Gap to Tybee Light and a lot of other points between Lookout Mountain and Kingsland.
He always has had time for questions, be it from the public or the nosy press. He’s never shied away from the spotlight — he’s been a guest on shows as diverse as “Real Time with Bill Maher” and “Red Eye,” the Fox News show that airs at 3 a.m. He has almost always, with a very rare exception, answered any question from the press head-on, letting them know what he thinks and where he stands.
He drew his most attention early on for sleeping in his office, rather than plunking down hundreds to thousands of dollars a month on a pricy apartment in the D.C. area. And he’s never been bashful about his desire to spend his weekends at home with his family as much as possible.
Whatever you think of Kingston and his policies and philosophies, if you disagree with any or all of it, he has been available, accessible and approachable. He has been willing to listen to another point of view. He has spoken of his willingness to work with and listen to folks from across the aisle, and it’s a trait that is sadly growing less and less frequent publicly in Congress, save for a handful of representatives.
We hope Kingston doesn’t fade off into the sunset from the political arena. It’s been a long time since he’s been an insurance salesman, and we hope he finds a worthwhile endeavor in the future in which he can continue to advocate and champion the issues of the Coastal Empire.