They both have referred to the No Child Left Behind Act as an unfunded mandate. They oppose water transfers from the Savannah River to the Atlanta area. And they say they both believe marriage should remain a union between a man and a woman.
Jim Whitehead says he's focusing on conservative values.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
Still, Democrat Chuck Pardue and Republican Jim Whitehead, both of whom are vying for the state's 24th District Senate seat, have some differences and say their individual experiences have primed them for the job.
Whitehead, who served from 1995-2002 as a Columbia County commissioner and owns Jim Whitehead Tire and Auto Service, says he's focusing his campaign on his conservative values, adding that he has signed a pledge not to raise taxes if elected.
"The main issue is what are the core values and what are your core beliefs,'' he said.
This past Wednesday, Whitehead was in Lincolnton on a tour through District 24 to get the word out about his beliefs before the Tuesday election. District 24 now covers Columbia, Elbert, Glascock, Lincoln, McDuffie, Warren and Wilkes counties. The majority of the district's population, however, lives in Columbia County.
"We are just ecstatic," Whitehead said about the home stretch of his campaign. "If you could just ride with us and meet the people we've met and see the people we've seen."
Pardue, a Columbia County resident, private practice attorney in Augusta since 1986 and military judge in Germany from 1984-86, also has been hard on the campaign trail. He says he will be a leader for Fort Gordon as a possible 2005 Base Realignment and Closure list approaches. He also says his top priority as a state senator would be ethics reform.
"It's my position that legislators should not do business with the state," he said. "I'm not focusing in on Whitehead. It's a Democratic problem. It's a Republican problem. It's a problem for Georgians."
And overall, both candidates say they have run clean races, avoiding personal attacks.
"We're real excited,'' Pardue said. "We've ran a very clean campaign and done our utmost to avoid any personal attacks. And the people have responded to it.''
Chuck Pardue says his top priority would be ethics reform.
White-head agreed, saying that from the very beginning in his race against then-Republican Joey Brush, whom he beat in the primary, he has conducted a clean campaign.
"It has (been clean) because that's what we're about,'' Whitehead said.
One issue the two candidates have differed on, though, is school vouchers. Whitehead said he supports them.
"School vouchers are for everybody, not just for the rich as they want to say," Whitehead said. "They (the poor) have a right to a better school just like everybody else does.''
But Pardue said vouchers put a heavier strain on public schools.
"The vouchers, in some ways, they are attractive,'' Pardue said. "But unfortunately, it would really undercut our public school system. Having fewer students in public schools, that would put an incredible pressure on what's left."
In the end, both men say their experience has led them to seek the office. Whitehead says that being a businessman has taught him that you either must cut expenses or increase revenue when looking to increase available funds. He said he doesn't favor increasing revenue by raising taxes.
"We're at a crossroads that we've got to have tough decisions to make," Whitehead said.
However, Pardue says, tough decisions shouldn't interfere with critical state programs.
"Where I think we do have some differences is the issue of funding from the state government,'' Pardue said.
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