Se­nate in­cum­bent faces Demo­cratic chal­lenger

Eco­nomic bailout, en­ergy, health­care top plat­form is­sues elec­tion2008

The Covington News - - News -

The race for the U.S. Se­nate has un­ex­pect­edly tight­ened in re­cent weeks in the wake ofWall Street’s fi­nan­cial melt­down and a na­tional re­ces­sion, with a new poll show­ing in­cum­bent Repub­li­can Saxby Cham­b­liss barely lead­ing Demo­crat Jim Martin. A new In­sid­erAd­van­tage/Poll Po­si­tion sur­vey has Cham­b­liss lead­ing Martin 44 per­cent to 42 per­cent with Lib­er­tar­ian can­di­date Allen Buck­ley trail­ing with two per­cent. The sur­vey­was con­ducted on Thurs­day and sam­pled 615 reg­is­tered, likely vot­ers, and has a mar­gin of er­ror of 3.8 per­cent­age points. If Buck­ley can claim enough Repub­li­can vot­ers dis­sat­is­fied with Cham­b­liss’ votes for im­mi­gra­tion re­form and the eco­nomic bailout, it may be enough to force a runoff be­tween Cham­b­liss and Martin. The close race has Cham­b­liss cam­paign­ing hard around the state. The cam­paign has sched­uled a cam­paign rally for the Cov­ing­ton square on Tues­day af­ter­noon. OnFri­day, Cham­b­liss, the se­nior se­na­tor from Ge­or­gia who is seek­ing a sec­ond term in the Se­nate af­ter serv­ing for eight years in the U.S. House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives, said he did not think there would be a runoff with Martin. “We do our own daily tracking. We’re up frankly more than that,” said Cham­b­liss, adding that his cam­paign­was con­cerned about the race and had been from day one. “We’re con­fi­dent, we’re go­ing to pre­vail.” He ac­knowl­edged that his early Oc­to­ber vote in fa­vor of the $700 bil­lion eco­nomic bailout has cost him some Repub­li­can sup­port but said more are beginning to re­al­ize that the bailout was in or­der. “Some of them who have been sup­port­ers of mine, they weren’t par­tic­u­larly happy,” he said, adding that he voted for the bailout be­cause “you re­al­ize some­thing must be done and that was ex­actly the case here. Sit­ting around and do­ing noth­ing like my op­po­nent said he would have done was not an op­tion.” Speak­ing at a meet and greet in Cony­ers spon­sored by the Rock­dale Demo­cratic Party two weeks ago, Martin said he would not have voted for the res­cue plan be­cause it didn’t con­tain reg­u­la­tions of fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions and reg­u­la­tions of the con­sumer prac­tices that al­lowed the preda­tory lend­ing that helped to cause the re­cent wave of fore­clo­sures. “Without that we’re just giv­ing tax­payer dol­lars to [Wall Street] without any as­sur­ance that it won’t hap­pen again. It makes no sense,” said Martin, who ran un­suc­cess­fully for lieu­tenant gov­er­nor in 2006 af­ter serv­ing 10 terms in the Ge­or­gia House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives and as Com­mis­sioner of Hu­man Re­sources un­der for­mer Gov. Roy Barnes. Cham­b­liss said he be­lieved the res­cue plan needed to be given a chance to work be­fore an­other bailout pro­posed by House Democrats, which would likely fea­ture an­other round of stim­u­lus checks, is passed. “I have con­fi­dence we’re go­ing to see the credit mar­ket freeze loosen up some­what,” Cham­b­liss said. “We need to give this an op­por­tu­nity first.” Martin said he be­lieves any new bill to ad­dress the eco­nomic re­ces­sion should also in­clude a pro­vi­sion that would al­low the fed­eral gov­ern­ment to in­ter­vene and as­sist home­own­ers in the re­fi­nanc­ing of their mortgages to pre­vent them from los­ing their homes. “Peo­ple want to pay their mortgages. It’s just the op­pres­sive terms and th­ese con­di­tions that have been put on peo­ple and the way they’ve been mar­keted to folks,” Martin said. Cham­b­liss said his se­nior lead­er­ship is needed now more than ever in the Se­nate. “In dif­fi­cult times like we are in right now, Amer­i­cans have looked to strong lead­er­ship. Ir­re­spec­tive of what the is­sue is, I have pro­vided strong lead­er­ship,” said Cham­b­liss, point­ing to his po­si­tions as the Rank­ing Repub­li­can mem­ber of the Se­nate Com­mit­tee on Agri­cul­ture, Nutri­tion and Forestry and on the Se­lect Com­mit­tee on In­tel­li­gence. “It’s the kind of lead­er­ship that folks in the Ag com­mu­nity re­spect and have been pleased with,” he said. I f re­elected Cham­b­liss said his top pri­or­i­ties will be tackling the fi­nan­cial cri­sis and de­vel­op­ing an en­ergy plan to make the United States en­ergy in­de­pen­dent. Cham­b­liss is one of the “Gang of 10,” a bi­par­ti­san group of se­na­tors that have pro­posed an al­ter­na­tive en­ergy plan to that pro­posed by the House. Martin said he would fo­cus on im­prov­ing health­care if elected and says he could sup­port the health­care plan pro­posed by Sen. Barack Obama but not the one pro­posed by Sen. John McCain. “I think we as a coun­try be­lieve that chil­dren ought to be able to get health care and Saxby Cham­b­liss has voted against ex­pand­ing the fed­eral state pro­gram that pro­vides health care,” Martin said. Martin promised to reach across the aisle to work with Ge­or­gia’s other se­na­tor, Repub­li­can Johnny Isak­son. A vet­eran of Viet­nam, he said he would also like to fo­cus on mil­i­tary is­sues. “I’ll make that judg­ment when I get to Wash­ing­ton about those ar­eas where Johnny [Isak­son] and I can work to­gether and sup­port each other,” he said. Though a very long shot, Lib­er­tar­ian Allen Buck­ley said he hopes, if noth­ing else, that his can­di­dacy serves to grow the state’s Lib­er­tar­ian Party. “I hope to win and I know I would be a bet­ter se­na­tor than Jim Martin or Saxby Cham­b­liss. Cham­b­liss is a proven fail­ure. Jim is just not the an­swer,” he said on Mon­day. Buck­ley, an at­tor­ney and a CPA, pro­poses re­duc­ing en­ti­tle­ments, in­clud­ing Medi­care ben­e­fits by about one-third and mov­ing the re­tire­ment age to 68 for those Amer­i­cans born af­ter 1985. He also said he would work to re­duce mil­i­tary spending by one-third and would shut down most of the United State’s for­eign mil­i­tary bases. “Em­pires don’t last. We need to live within our means,” said Buck­ley, adding, “a na­tion built on debts and un­funded li­a­bil­i­ties is or even­tu­ally will be a weak na­tion.”

CHAM­B­LISS

MARTIN

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