Andrew Alvey stood out among the 12 candidates seeking the Republican Party’s nomination for the 10th Congressional District seat at the Oconee County Republican Forum on Monday night.
At 25 years of age, he was the youngest.
By the luck of the draw, he was the final candidate to speak.
He alone among the speakers said firmly that Donald Trump did not win the election with Joe Biden in 2020.
Alvey, in fact, blamed Trump for the loss.
That response did not produce the loud applause that the other candidates got with their comments on the 2020 election.
The other candidates who commented on the election either said Trump won or that it isn’t clear yet who won.
The candidates were uniformly critical of President Joe Biden and Democrats in general, but several also criticized other Republicans, including Gov. Brian Kemp, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, and Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Only one of the candidates, Dr. Paul Broun criticized the other Republicans candidates, saying “they all have their rhetoric,” but with him voters have a “guarantee” about what he will do if elected. Broun previously represented the District in Congress.
Format Of Forum
The Oconee County Republican Party had invited 13 candidates in the May 24 Republican Primary to join in what turned out to be an hour and forty minute session at Hidden Estates at DGD Farms, 1112 Cliff Dawson Road, north of Butler’s Crossing.
|Bryant With Candidates At Start Of Forum|
All but Todd Heussner, who has announced he will not run, showed up for the forum.
Moderator Tim Bryant conducted what amounted to short interviews with each of the candidates, similar to what he does on his WGAU morning radio program, Classic City Today.
All the candidates were seated at the front of the room, with Bryant, also seated, facing the group from one side.
Bryant called the candidates forward in what he said was a random order to sit opposite him and asked the summoned candidate to put on a headset so the interview could be live streamed on WGAU radio as well as amplified for the audience.
He said each candidate would have eight minutes for the interview.
Bryant was animated throughout the evening, offering his comments and joking with some of the candidates he had met in the past in his role as host of his morning news and interview program.
Bryant usually began by asking the candidates to provide an introduction and then launched into questions. The questions were free ranging, with only two questions asked of most, but not all, of the candidates.
Bryant asked all but one to indicate whether Trump had won the election, or followed up when the candidate brought up the subject, as several did.
Most, in answering, assumed Bryant was referring to Georgia, and all but Alvey said either that Trump won or that the evidence presented so far that he had won was inconclusive.
Bryant asked most of the candidates how they are responding to the uncertainty about 10th District borders given that redistricting won’t get underway until next week.
All who were asked said that they weren’t focused on the boundaries.
Oconee Republican Party Chair Kathy Hurley said that 247 persons had registered in advance for the session and another 54 came without registering.
Hurley said her “best estimate” was that between 275 and 300 were in attendance.
Final Candidate: Alvey
As Alvey came forward for the final interview, Bryant noted that the meeting room remained full and that the audience remained engaged even after more than 90 minutes into the program.
|Alvey (Left) And Bryant|
“Do you believe” the election last year “was stolen?” Bryant asked Alvey after Alvey had introduced himself and noted that at 25 he was the youngest of the candidates.
“I don’t believe the election was stolen,” Alvey said.
“That sets you apart from all of the others,” Bryant said. “What do you think happened?”
“I think he did great things,” Alvey said of Trump. “I just think the man himself was a poor communicator for the Republican position.”
Bryant noted that Alvey had not gotten any applause for that answer and asked him how he was going to handle that.
“I’m myself,”Alvey said. “I think you should vote for someone who is honest. I’m not going to tell you something that you want to hear to get your vote.”
That produced at least a modest applause.
Bryant ended the interview with Alvey after Alvey had spoken for only a little more than six minute.
All the other candidates got their promised eight minutes.
First Up: Marc McMain
Marc McMain was the first person to put on the headsets and take questions from Bryant.
“Why are you running for Congress?” Bryant asked.
“Look, I want to continue what President Trump started and put America first,” he said. “I’m an outsider. I’m fiscally responsible. I want to balance our budget,” he said.
McMain said he wanted to institute term limits. “I want to crush that nest that these politicians, these career politicians, have made for themselves,” he said.
He said he would limit himself to three terms if he is elected.
“You’re running in a District or for a seat and you’re not sure what the District boundaries are going to be,” Bryant said, referring to the uncertainty created by upcoming redistricting. “Does that impact your thinking in way?”
McMain gave the common response of the evening, saying “Look, we’re all faced with that,” he said. “Hopefully, it doesn’t change too much,” he added.
Sims began by discussing his military career, which ended in an assignment in Washington.
He said he had worked with Congress, with the White House, with the State Department, with the FBI, and with the CIA.
“I know how to get things done in Washington, and it is possible to do if you just know your way around,” he said.
“I’m not a politician,” he said. “I’ve never held elective office. I’m not bought. I don’t owe anything to anyone. I answer only to God, and I answer to you, the citizens here in the 10th District of Georgia.”
Sims criticized the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and said the chaos was the result of the Biden administration not having “a national security strategy.”
Under Trump, Sims said, the country had the strongest national security strategy since President Ronald Reagan was in office.
Sims was the only candidate Bryant didn’t ask about the 2020 election, and Sims did not raise the elections on his own.
Matt Richards And Hammer
Matt Richards brought a sledge hammer forward with him when he took the chair opposite Bryant at the front of the room.
|Richards, Hammer, Other Candidates|
“I used this to get where I’m at today,” he said, holding up the hammer to show the “Wreck The Left” written on the handle.
Richard runs a demolition company.
“Like President Trump, he was called to serve his country as a business man,” Richards said. “I’m a business man that’s been called to serve my country.”
Richards said his business is struggling with a labor shortage and other problems.
“The supply chain is completely wrecked by this god awful president,” Richards said.
“In two years, if we don’t take back the House and take back the Senate, we’re not going to be America any more,” Richards said. “We’re going to be China 2.0.”
“Communism is here,” he said. “We’re fighting it every day. We’ve got to wreck the Left. We’ve got to put a stop to it now.”
Mitch Swan said education in the U.S. has declined and the “Department of Education has earned the right to go away.”
“We have an integrity problem throughout government,” he said, citing the FBI, the Department of Justice, the Department of Education, and the Internal Revenue Service.
“Everything seems to be weaponized against us,” he said. “We have weaponized individual liberty against people. You can’t do that.”
“Let’s talk about Afghanistan,” Bryant said, saying he was asking a question submitted by a member of the Oconee County Republican Party.
“Afghanistan, toss in some others, as well, Iran, Pakistan, North Korea, the question of federal aid for those people. Would you be supportive in any form or fashion?”
“It depends on what it is for,” Swan said. “Would I support education? Yes. Fresh water and wells? Sure. Am I going to fund the Taliban government of Afghanistan? No.”
“What just happened in Afghanistan was the greatest failure of U.S. policy in our history,” he said.
Only Female Candidate: Mary West
Mary West got a loud response from the audience when Bryant asked her about the 2020 elections and she brought up Democrat Stacy Abrams.
“Mark my words,” she said. “I know Stacy Abrams. I used to be a Democrat. The woman is evil. She knows what she is doing. She’s got the money to do it.”
“We are under attack right now,” West said. “We are under attack by the Democratic Party.
“We are under attack by the Communists that are coming after us,” she continued. “Russia and China are coming for our greatness. They want our money. They want our children. They are busy indoctrinating us right now.”
“We are in big, big trouble, and we know it,” West continued. “We viscerally feel it. But I’m telling you, its there, and that is my main focus.”
“Get rid of the Democrats, right now. Get rid of them,” West said.
West said she it is important for Republicans to vote.
“If you don’t vote, the Democrats are coming for you,” she said. “They’re coming for your grandchildren. Get out and vote.”
David Curry said he runs a barbeque restaurant today, and he is struggling with inflation.
“Everything I have to purchase has doubled in price in 12 months,” he said.
“You can’t give out free money,” Curry said, blaming President Biden. “You cannot give out mailbox money and expect things not to change. That creates inflation.”
“The government needs to get out of giving people money, get out of people’s lives, give it back over to the free market system, and it will correct itself,” he added.
Curry said he has had to cut back his hours at his restaurant because he cannot find workers.
“Small businesses today are struggling,” he said. “And this president has no answers.”
“Americans have been abandoned by our commander in chief in Afghanistan,” Curry said, turning to foreign policy.
“Communism is alive and well in Washington,” he said. “My plan is to take the House back in 2022, take the Senate back in 2022, and then take our country back.”
Charles Rupert said he was running for Congress because “I see the president breaking the law. I see Congress members breaking the law.”
“I see Washington as similar to a bar fight when I was a cop,” he said. “I used to go into a bar fight by myself and break it up. I do not go into a fight to lose.”
“I’ve had experience in breaking up fights,” he said. “I’ve had experience in taking on people that are against me. And I go in to win. And I will win.”
“We’ve got to get the Republicans who are already in Washington to wake up and start doing some of the jobs,” Rupert said.
He said Republicans need to take advantage of the infighting in the Democratic Party and get support there.
“I’m in it because of my grandkids and my great-grandkids,” Rupert said. “I’ve got a lot fire in my belly and I’m ready to go.”
Bryant, referring to Mike Collins’ trucking company, asked him about the challenges he is facing now.
“The challenges we face now are the challenges we faced over 20 years,” Collins said. “And that’s just the fact that the regulations out there are killing us.
“Regulations are not only killing our business,” he added. “They are killing all businesses. And that’s one of the things we’ve got to address in Congress.
“That’s one of the reasons China is hauling all of this mess over here–the cheap Chinese crap they are putting on us. And they are showing us they can affect our economy whenever they feel like it,” Collins continued.
“The reason they are doing that is because the U.S. has had manufacturers that have had to send their goods overseas to be manufactured because they can’t compete here in the United States due to regulations–onerous, overreaching, federal regulations,” Collins said.
Collins said he wants trucking to be taught in high schools and he wants to allow 18 year olds to drive trucks.
“There’s a big red wave coming on,” Collins said in concluding. “I’ve seen it. It’s huge.
“You can either go the way of Mitt Romneys and Liz Chaneys of the world, or you can go the way of the Freedom Caucus–Matt Gaetz, the Jim Jordans, the Donald Trumps.
“That’s the group I’m going to join,” he said.
Bryant asked Patrick Witt how his experience as a high school, college, and, briefly, professional quarterback would help him in Congress.
|Witt (Left) And Bryant|
“I think it is critical to elect someone who knows how to lead people,” Witt responded. “You need to be able to build relationships.”
“We are going to see a red wave,” Witt said. “We are going to take back the House. But it is not enough to send another Republican up there.
“We are full of a bunch of conservative vote casters,” he said, “but we need people who are going to lead, who are going to help us win the argument. Who are going to stand their ground and have a proven track record of doing stuff.”
Witt said in his capacity as deputy chief of staff and acting chief of staff in the Office of Personnel Management in the Trump administration “I was leading the executive orders to drain the swamp.”
On the election, Witt said “We gave away the farm to Tracy Abrams because we had a bunch of weak Republicans like Brad Raffensperger, Jeff Duncan, Chris Carr, and yes, Brian Kemp too.
“The state of Georgia is rotten,” Witt said.
“Our GOP here in the state, we have a bunch of leaders who will not stand their ground against Democrats,” he said. “It is time that we start electing people who, when it actually matters, that’s when they’re there, that’s when they have a backbone.”
Dr. Paul Broun
Dr. Paul Broun told the audience that “Obamacare must go away.” It is too expensive, he said. He said citizens need to have more control over health care spending.
Broun served for four terms, representing the 10th District. He left in 2014 to run unsuccessfully for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate. David Perdue won that nomination and that Senate seat.
“We’ve got a lot of candidates here tonight,” Broun continued. “But you have a very unique opportunity. How many times have we elected somebody to office and we were very disappointed?
“They talked great, but we got burned, haven’t we?” he said. “You won’t get burned with me. They’ve all got the rhetoric,” Broun said, gesturing toward the other candidates. “I’ve got a positive, proven, Constitutional voting record,” he said.
“So you can count on me,” Broun said. “With them, it’s a guess. It’s really a gamble,” Broun continued. “With me, you have a guarantee.”
Bryant asked Broun who in Congress is “closest” to his “own heart.”
Broun listed Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, and Congressman Jim Jordan of Ohio.
“We’ve got to have conservative leadership back in the U.S. Senate and U.S. House,” Broun said. “I want to see Mitch McConnell gone,” he added, referring to the Senator Minority Leader from Kentucky.
Brant began his conversation with Tim Barr by noting that Barr had been endorsed by current 10th District Representative Hice, who is stepping down to run for the Secretary of State nomination.
“It’s definitely an honor,” Barr said. “We really connected over faith and family and love of this country.”
“I refuse to be the generation that hands socialism to my kids,” Barr said. “I think we’re at that point where the government is giving away our hard earned tax dollars to folks who haven’t earned it.”
“My money is my money. When we say tax dollars, that’s our money, y’all,” Barr said. “That’s the slippery slope of socialism, is giving my stuff to somebody else who hasn’t worked for it.”
When Bryant asked Barr for his reaction to redistricting, Barr said “I haven’t seen any maps yet.” Both the Republicans and the Democrats have released versions of maps for the 14 Georgia Congressional Districts.
Barr said on election reform “we’ve got to take it out of politicians’ hands. We’ve got to take it away from the Secretary of State. We have to take it away from the AG (Attorney General).”
“I feel like Trump won Georgia,” Barr said. “I put that on my signs,” he said, pointing toward his campaign signs, which contain his name on one side and Trump Won Georgia on the other.
“Joe Biden is our biggest national security threat right now,” Barr said. “The House has the purse strings to rein him in. And we will rein Joe Biden in.”
Philip Ashford attended the candidate forum on Oct. 25 on my behalf and recorded the video below.
The Forum was live streamed on WGAU radio, and I listened at home.
After introductory comments, Bryant began his interview with McMain at 2:25.
Sims began speaking at 10:30.
Richards began his comments at 18:28.
Swan began his interview at 26:02.
West began speaking at 33:57.
Currey was at the microphone at 42:41.
Rupert took his first question at 50:53.
There is a less than 15 second gap between Rupert and Collins in the video, as Ashford switched disks in the camera.
The audio is available online at WGAU.
I transcribed the missing comments of Tim Bryant as he introduced Collins.
“Handing the headsets to Mike Collins,” Bryant said. Mike Collins, like Mitch Swan, running before, running in 2014, and was, in fact, correct me I’m wrong here, in a runoff with Jody Hice, back in 2014, if my memory serves me. I’m hoping that it does. Thank you for your time this evening.”
Collins began his comments at 59:01.
Witt began his comments at 1:07:18.
Broun spoke at 1:15:53.
Barr began his comments at 1:24:40.
Alvey started his comments at 1:33:19.
Bryant terminated the interview with Alvey at 1:39:36 and ended the session at 1:40:23.