Rep. Donna Edwards Lesli Messinger Savannah's Lesli Messinger gives Democrats best chance to beat Jack Kingston
Sunday, 21 October 2012 16:18

Savannah's Lesli Messinger gives Democrats best chance to beat Jack Kingston

Written by  Examiner

On Saturday, October 20, First Congressional District candidate Lesli Messinger visited Pin Point, Georgia and talked with locals about her candidacy and to listen to what issues those citizens believe are important.

Messinger has traveled through her congressional district for months since her qualifying back in late May and has touted a strong progressive message and has been able to build grassroots coalitions.

There is a growing consensus that Messinger is a viable contender to long-time incumbent Jack Kingston, a Republican who has managed to represent southeast Georgia for two decades.

Kingston has been one of the faces of Republican obstructionism for ten terms in the U.S. Congress and Messinger is poised to be the first woman to be elected to U.S. Congress from the Peach State since 2006.

Right now, there are no women -- Republican or Democrat-- serving in the Georgia delegation in the U.S. Congress.

Kingston, Messinger argues, is one of the most extremist Republicans in Congress. "His voting record has consistently derailed measures that would help the middle class, working families, the unemployed, senior citizens and veterans."

One of Kingston's first votes back in 1993 was against an effort to raise the tax rates of the highest income earners to 39 percent which was part of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993 .

No Republicans, including Kingston, voted for the bill that eventually became a law. In hindsight, it was the foundation of reducing the deficit and when President Bill Clinton left office in early 2001, the federal deficit which had been grown by Ronald Reagan and George HW Bush in the 1980's and early 1990's had been replaced by a surplus.

Kingston and his conservative, Tea Party colleagues have always been on the wrong side of the issues and their destructive, irresponsible fiscal policies have had devastating consequences on Georgia and the nation.

Kingston was part of a conservative majority in 2001 that voted for the infamous Bush Tax Cuts and did so once again in 2003. This laid the foundation-- along with voting for two wars (Afghanistan and Iraq) that were charged on the country's 'credit card' -- that put the nation's economic situation at risk which eventually led to the 2008 recession..

By 2005, the nation was running a significant deficit thanks politicians such as Kingston.

Messinger points to Kingston's record in Congress.

"Even though citizens in the district are struggling in the worst economy since the Great Depression, he has voted against unemployment extensions, against safety enhancements for troops on active duty, against one-time disbursements to seniors on fixed incomes."

Georgia's First Congressional District consists of 17 counties stretching from eastern Lowdnes County -- outside of Valdosta near Moody Air Force Base-- along the Georgia/Florida state line to the coastal areas of southeast Georgia which includes Chatham County, the district's largest population center which includes its largest city -- Savannah.

Chatham County will play an integral role in Messinger being able to the first woman to represent southeast Georgia in the U.S. Congress.

Chatham has always been a Democrat-leaning county in presidential years and mid-term years. However, will it be a 'light blue' or 'dark blue' county in 2012?

Kingston is vulnerable, but how will the African-American turnout be in Chatham? What will be turnout among younger voters under 30 years old? What will be the margin of victory for Messinger among women in Chatham and in the district?

Messinger's path to victory mirrors President Barack Obama in his race against Republican Mitt Romney.

President Obama won 57% of the Chatham County vote to John McCain's 42% in 2008.

The Democratic candidate must win by a larger margin in 2012 to neutralize any advantage Kingston may have in the conservative, but growing Effingham County and other less diverse and significantly less populated rural counties such as Brantley, Pierce, Wayne and Long counties.

Can Messinger win between 65 to 70 percent of the overall vote in Chatham County? Yes, she can. It is all about turnout.

Chatham, according to the Secretary of State website as of October 1, has 145,509 registered voters.

Other areas of the district that Messinger must get overwhelmingly turnout is Chatham's next door neighbor, Liberty County.

Liberty--home of Fort Stewart and the city of Hinesville-- has been reliably blue, but can Messinger win 65 to 70 percent of the vote in Liberty County? Once again, it is all about turnout.

Analysts have said that if President Barack Obama wins Ohio , it would be tough for Mitt Romney to win on November 6.

If Messinger overwhelmingly wins Chatham and Liberty, Jack Kingston's days as a congressman would be numbered.

However, Messinger will have to be competitive in Glynn, Camden, McIntosh and Charlton Counties.

Previous Democratic challengers over the past two decades had lost those counties badly. However, Messinger has a chance to break-even or win these counties outright.

Majority-minority cities such as Folkston, Brunswick, Darien and other coastal cities such as Kingsland and St. Marys will play an important role in whether a Democrat will be representing southeast Georgia for the first time in decades.

Messinger spoke with Wayne County's weekly newspaper, The Jesup Press-Sentinel and said the following:

“The No. 1 problem in Congress right now is obstruction of President Obama’s efforts to kickstart a viable recovery. We cannot progress toward economic recovery as long as a majority Republican Congress is intent on keeping the economy stagnant just to defeat the current President and make him appear to be a failure. Congress must have Democratic representatives in place in order to remove the problem of corporate control and domination of laws written. Electing Democratic representatives that work for the people will result in an end to partisan standoffs.”

Messinger went on to explain her priorities.

“My No. 1 priority is to work to promote economic expansion and recovery—through empowering entrepreneurs, small businesses, and giving incentives to companies that locate in the First District and create jobs.

“My second priority would be to promote high-quality education in all communities in the First District, including supporting teachers and bolstering youth-at-risk programs to help ensure every child’s potential is maximized.

“Thirdly, I want to build partnerships that will create job-assistance training for veterans, the long-term unemployed and young people trying to enter the workforce. Civilian-military partnerships are also an area I’d like to help expand.”

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