On July 15, we will go to the polls and vote in the primary election. The very soul of the Republican Party is at stake.
In 1994, the GOP swept into Congress after promising tax-and-spend reform and a host of other things. Fast-forward to 2006, and speaker-elect Nancy Pelosi. Why? Because the party strayed from its core beliefs of character, fiscal restraint and minimal government, and substituted it with a spending and bureaucracy binge.
Within the past year, Democratic candidates captured three House seats typically considered safe for Republicans. During the past 24 months, Georgia's budget went from $16 billion to $21.1 billion. How can spending increase by more than 25 percent in two years? The state GOP is mimicking the national GOP, and it must stop.
I am not expecting or promising perfection. However, we should demand, not expect, that those who represent us stand firm on principle and conviction, and when faced with adversity, step up and own up.
A perfect example of this is what the people of Missouri experienced when state Sen. Chuck Graham was arrested under suspicion of driving while intoxicated on Oct. 20, 2007. On Dec. 14, 2007, Graham pled guilty to DWI. He acted irresponsibly and endangered the lives of others, but he at least took his judicial medicine without delay and drama.
We must decide whether we want the status quo, or whether we want true representation in the form of someone who will do what is right. Yes, politics and compromise will be involved, but this time the best interest of Columbia County and Georgia will take center stage. For too long, the interest of a select few and Glenn Richardson have prevailed.
Last month, many of us received e-mails from the Republican Party asking us to contact Gov. Sonny Perdue and request that he veto House Bill 1027. HB 1027 states that people ordered to take defensive driving may do so online. In other words, someone convicted of driving drunk can use a computer to substitute hours of personalized instruction.
A similar law exists in Florida, and to prove a point, Driving Educators of Georgia registered "Scooby Doo" for the online rehabilitation. Scooby passed the course and was awarded a certificate.
HB 1027's final vote came in April 2004; state Rep. Ben Harbin voted for it. I would have voted against it.
The U.S. Congress passed the Prescription Drug User Fee Act in 1992, allowing drug companies to pay the FDA cash in advance for an expedited review of drugs. The FDA admits that it conducts no tests, but studies tests performed by the drug companies and then approves or denies each product. U.S. Rep. Maurice Hinchey states that half of the FDA's budget is provided by drug companies.
Just as alarming, the Medicare Prescription Drug Improvement Act of 2003 prohibits Medicare and other government programs from negotiating price with drug companies.
In Georgia, HB 180 states, "The Department of Community Health shall expedite the review of any prescription drug or other health care product having an approved indication from the federal Food and Drug Administration for use with humans..."
I would have run clear across hell's half-acre to oppose this bill. No way will I support Georgians being dispensed drugs that were rubber-stamped by the FDA. Harbin sponsored HB 180, and has taken $19,350 in contributions from drug companies since 2006.
Last year, the governor took $120,000 from Stevens Creek Elementary School. This year, he took $1.2 million from Columbia County schools and vetoed $250,000 for a Georgia Highway Patrol station (for which Columbia County taxpayers are paying $2 million). Why?
If Harbin has immense legislative clout, as his supporters claim, why the cuts? I intend to restore credibility with the governor's office and rebuild the bridge that has been badly damaged by the embarrassments of Linda Schrenko and Robin Williams and the running feud with Ben Harbin. It's time to turn the corner on this page of Columbia County history and elect a true public servant.
It is important to note that some of the local GOP hierarchy asked me not to qualify to run against Harbin. Why? They say that our job is to elect Republicans. I'm Republican. Their tag-team request was totally inappropriate and further evidence of not doing the right thing.
Please, do the right thing on July 15. I won't let you down.
Lee Benedict is a Republican candidate for the 118th District seat in the Georgia House of Representatives.
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.