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|Election: Crowded field in Ga.’s fourth congressional district|
|by Matt Schafer|
|July 09, 2010 00:00|
U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson’s campaign for a third term representing Georgia’s 4th Congressional District is facing challenges from the left and the right as six candidates try to represent the northeastern Atlanta district.
Republicans Victor Armendariz, Lisbeth “Liz” Carter, Larry Gause and Cory Ruth hope to win their party’s nomination in the July 20 Republican primary. On the Democratic side, Johnson faces DeKalb Commissioner Connie Stokes and former DeKalb CEO Vernon Jones in the primary. The winners of the party primaries will advance to the Nov. 2 general election ballot.
Andrew Phelan, Johnson’s communications director, said between campaign efforts and Johnson’s responsibilities in Washington there was not time for a full interview before Georgia Voice’s deadline. But Johnson’s stands on gay and transgender issues have been well documented.
Since his election in 2006 Johnson has scored well with the Human Rights Campaign, earning a 95 out of 100 rating in the 2008 HRC Congressional scorecard, the most recent scorecard available. His actions have earned the support of the HRC, which has contributed to Johnson’s campaign.
“We do support Hank Johnson, he’s had a short but great career,” said Mike Mings, director of HRC’s Political Action Committee.
Neither of Johnson’s challengers in the Democratic primary returned messages from Georgia Voice. Jones’ staff also turned down numerous requests for interviews from Southern Voice in 2008, but did send a response via email where he supported “the current state statute” that bans recognition of gay couples. Jones also said he supported an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to ban gay marriage, supported the military’s policy of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” and opposed allowing Americans to sponsor foreign-born same-sex life partners for citizenship.
Johnson is a co-sponsor of the Uniting Families Act, which would allow same-sex couples immigration rights, and voted in favor of repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
During her 10 years as state senator, Stokes voted against the 2004 constitutional amendment that banned gay marriage in Georgia. She left the state Senate in 2004 and in 2006 won the District 7 post on the DeKalb County Commission.
While the District 4 congressional seat has long been a Democratic stronghold, Republicans Armendariz, Carter, Gause and Ruth all hope to change that with an upset win.
“We have not had a strong Republican run in District 4 before, but District 4 is actually 38 percent independent, so District 4 is actually a swing district,” Carter said.
Carter has the endorsement of the Georgia Log Cabin Republicans, and says that discrimination against any group doesn’t have a place in federal law.
“A lot of Republicans need to uphold the Constitution and you can’t discriminate against a group of people because you don’t like what they do,” Carter said.
Carter says she supports repealing DADT and would like to see federal recognition extended to gay couples, but isn’t particular about whether it is called marriage or civil unions.
Her openness about gay issues has cost her some support among conservative Republicans, but she said she has to be honest about where she stands, including her opposition to the federal government extending domestic partnership benefits, and to the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would ban job discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
“This won’t win me any popularity contests on either side, but I do think that ENDA goes too far… I think Barney Frank has gone too far, and this bill does more harm than good,” she said.
Armendariz is also open about his support for gay issues. He said he believes in civil unions, ENDA and allowing same-sex partners immigration rights.
“I’m a big believer in civil unions, and I believe that should be a state issue, it seems to me that there should be something the states can do,” Armendariz said. “It’s a people thing, and we need to do what’s right for people… I think civil unions are the way to go, because that way you can have your traditional definition of marriage and then you can have civil unions… because no one has the right to tell someone they can’t love someone, especially the federal government.”
Armendariz repeated several times that the federal government has little or no role in social issues and is running to help return the country to fiscal responsibility.
Neither Ruth nor Gause returned messages asking for interviews.
Top photo: Two Democrats and three Republicans hope to replace U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.), who recently voted to repeal ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’ (courtesy U.S. House)
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