Georgia Republican seeks to put 2020 aside for other issues

ATLANTA (AP) — Republican state Sen. Burt Jones is running for Lieutenant Governor of Georgia on a platform to fight inflation and crime and improve education. But Democrat Charlie Bailey is focusing on Jones’ efforts to undo the 2020 presidential election.

“I know what Georgia is going through right now, with the economy, inflation and everything else – crime in the streets.” Jones said Tuesday in a debate sponsored by the Atlanta Press Club.

However, Bailey often shifts attention to Jones’ participation as one of the 16 Republicans who signed up as a false voter in Georgia for Donald Trump in 2020 and its efforts to push for a special session in Georgia aimed at overthrowing President Joe Biden’s narrow win in the state.

“The truth is, Mr. Jones, what you did was un-American and unpatriotic,” Bailey said in a debate that also involved libertarian Ryan Graham. “You cannot decide for the people of Georgia who serves them and who their elected leader is. That is their choice, not yours.”

The lieutenant governor presides over the Georgia Senate and helps control the flow of legislation. The Republican Lt. Governor Geoff Duncan chose not to seek a second term after emerging as a vocal critic of Trump’s attempts to undo the 2020 election.

Jones, who has Trump’s backing, claims his participation as an unsanctioned voter was an attempt to keep Republican options open should they win lawsuits after the election. That explanation covers Jones’ other activities, including flying to Washington the night before January 6 to meet with Vice President Mike Pence. Jones has said he originally planned to lobby Pence to throw out the electoral votes of Georgia and other states, but then decided it would be futile.

A judge ruled in July that Democratic District Attorney in Fulton County Fani Willis was unable to sue Jones for his activities because she had held a fundraiser for Bailey. The Georgia Board of Prosecutors will decide whether to appoint another prosecutor to charge Jones.

Jones, heir to a major petroleum distribution company and founder of an insurance agency, reiterated his position on Tuesday that voters don’t care: “What they’re talking to me about is gas prices, four years of high inflation, crime going on, and then what’s going on.” going on in our education system. And that’s what I focused on.”

Bailey, a former assistant district attorney of Fulton County who lost a race for attorney general in 2018, gambles differently. But he’s committed to a more complete platform and pledges to be a loyal promoter of the priorities of his gubernatorial running mate, Stacey Abrams, in the state Senate.

That includes trying to roll back restrictions on abortion and backing Abrams’ promises to raise teachers’ salaries and expand Medicaid health insurance. Bailey also argues that Republicans are underfunding law enforcement, especially the state crime lab, hindering prosecution.

Bailey acknowledges that Republicans are likely to retain a majority in the state Senate and could strip him of many powers if elected. But he vows to use whatever influence he has to support a democratic agenda.

Jones assaulted Bailey over an arrest in May 2011 on suspicion of drink-driving. Bailey pleaded for reckless driving and was sentenced to probation and community service.

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Jones’ biggest pledge is to try to abolish Georgia’s income tax, which last year raised more than $20 billion, about 60% of all state tax revenue.

He also claims he wants to improve education by spending more government money on charter and private schools, prioritizing vocational and technical education, and lowering college costs by limiting college spending. Jones has also taken positions in the school culture war, saying he tries to prevent schools from learning things that “divide our children.”

He also proposes tougher penalties for some crimes and more law enforcement spending.

Jones has raised $6.6 million and had $1.9 million under his belt as of September 30, including a $2 million loan to himself. Bailey has raised nearly $1.9 million and had $650,000 in cash. Graham raised $8,300.

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Follow Jeff Amy on http://twitter.com/jeffamy.

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