Barry Fleming pauses during Congress race to stop in Madison
By Greg Sullivan
Not exactly a fish out of water, a conservative Republican from Harlem..., the suburb of heavily-conservative Augusta, visited Madison Thursday afternoon during his week-long tour of the 10th Congressional District as his campaign for US Congress picks up steam.
Barry Fleming, currently Majority Whip of the Georgia House of Representatives, said he believes he's got what it takes to unseat incumbent Paul Broun from his spot on the congressional aisle in Washington, D.C. Meanwhile, Broun has barely had time to get his seat warm, having fairly recently won a special congressional election last summer following the death of Congressman Charlie Norwood.
The conditions of the current congressional race became a very predictable scenario once Broun shocked political talking heads across the country by winning last year's special election over heavily-favored fellow Republican candidate Jim Whitehead. Many who backed Broun in that election were from Athens, a heavily Democratic part of the district. Since both candidates in the run-off were Republicans, it is assumed by many that some Democratic voters helped sway the election in Broun's favor.
In a traditional election, though, like this time around, Democrats and Republicans will have a July primary to choose a party nominee which should take out at least some variables present in last year's special election. So since the last election the thinking has been that a Republican would come along and paint themselves as more conservative than Broun in order to edge Broun in the primary and take the conservative-leaning district.
Fleming's talking points may mean he fits the bill as he met for a campaign-arranged barber shop interview at Bulldog Barbershop in downtown Madison Thursday afternoon.
Having just finished lunch at Ye Olde Colonial, a place where Broun went for publicity just a couple weeks before, Fleming entered the shop with a friendly and engaging demeanor. Then he talked about what he called this campaign's key issues.
"This is a conservative district and that's what I've been all my life," Fleming said, not making it a secret that he believes the big hurdle to winning the congressional seat will be winning the Republican primary and knocking off Broun. "The big race I believe will be the primary in July," he said before he quickly asserted that he's the more conservative of the two candidates.
The key issues this time around, he said, are maintaining traditional family values, including, he said, his definition of marriage as being a union between a man and a woman; solving economic problems by lowering taxes and finding a solution to rising gas prices.
Fleming said solving the current gas problem requires both short-range and long-range solutions.
"We need to be less dependent on foreign oil," Fleming said. He suggested limiting or removing federal gas taxes in the short-term. Also, he suggests drilling for oil in Alaska and in off-shore areas, he said, that right now are not being taken advantage of.In the long-run, he said the solution is conservation and nuclear power.
"I have always been a big proponent of nuclear power," he said.
To distinguish himself from Broun, Fleming alleged he has a more conservative voting record on issues including child pornography, veterans education and illegal immigrants relating to their obtaining of federal housing, citing various bills.
"This will be a true Republican primary," Fleming said. He added that Broun won't be able to rely on the votes of Democrats this go-round.
Fleming said currently his fundraising is going well and he has found a lot of support for his campaign. He said he plans to continue traveling the district.