ATLANTA | Voters in the Republican Senate runoff who want an experienced hand who
came up through the party ranks have that option in Jack Kingston.
His career is the life’s dream of teenaged political junkies. The volunteering he
and his wife were doing at a fundraiser as members of the Savannah Young Republicans
led to the chance to meet one of his heroes, Ronald Reagan, then a former governor
running for president.
Kingston’s hard work and connections led to winning a seat in the state House of Representatives
for Savannah in 1984. Six years later he became the first Republican to hold the First
District congressional seat since Reconstruction, and he’s been in Washington ever
since, rising in seniority and power over those 22 years.
Although he never had serious opposition after his first legislative race, he says
he still likes campaigning. Yet, these days, he frequently runs into questions about
his years in Congress spawned by negative television ads from runoff opponent David
Perdue attacking him primarily for his votes on spending.
“One of the constant concerns you have is that people are too polite when they come
up to you,” he said. “I’d rather have them ask me head on.”
So, here they are, head-on.
He’s being called “king of the earmarks” because he used them more in a three-year
period than all other Republican members of the Georgia legislative delegation combined.
The biggest difference between Kingston and Perdue is that one had a career in Congress
while the other held a career as a senior executive in private enterprise. Perdue
is appealing to voters who want a change while Kingston’s support comes from those
who appreciate his conservative voting record.
Kingston has won the endorsements of the National Rifle Association, National Right
to Life, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as well as many tea party leaders who generally
oppose the chamber.
He has a lifetime voting record of 100 percent in accord with the National Conservative
Union and 96 percent with the National Federation of Independent Business.
“When he goes around saying that Jack Kingston is a liberal, it just doesn’t have
credibility,” Kingston said of his opponent’s attacks.
Kerwin Swint, a political science professor at Kennesaw State University, said while
primary voters may be more attuned to attack ads than general-election voters, he
said they are not ploughing new ground.
“The content of the ads is pretty well known,” he said. “There is nothing striking
or new in them, but I guess it’s about repetition.” …