GOP rally introduces candidates

COVINGTON - The Newton County Republican Party held a rally and fundraiser Monday night at Turner Lake Complex that included speeches by candidates running for governor, secretary of state, insurance commissioner, labor commissioner and agriculture commissioner in the 2010 general election.

Tuesday's Citizen featured coverage of gubernatorial candidates. Today, the remaining candidates are featured.

Secretary of State

Both candidates, former State Sen. Brian Kemp and Sandy Springs City Councilman Doug MacGinnitie, said they support a law requiring those registering to vote to show proof of U.S. citizenship.

The law has come under attack by those who say it discriminates against minorities. Most recently, the U.S. Justice Department rejected the law, which would have cross-referenced social security and driver's license numbers to verify citizenship. The Justice Department said many of the voters flagged were residents flagged in error and they were disproportionately minority groups.

"The Secretary of State must stand up to the Obama Department of Justice and fight for the citizenship law," MacGinnitie said.

Both Kemp and MacGinnitie also said they support a requirement that those casting a ballot in person to present a photo ID.

The Secretary of State is charged with supervising and monitoring elections, providing campaign finance disclosure, managing and preserving public records and licensing, monitoring and registering professionals and businesses.

Kemp said his experience founding and developing several small businesses and as a former state legislator has given him good experience for the job. He said he wants to work with the legislature and governor on economic development, specifically helping small businesses grow.

MacGinnitie also touted his business experience, having started his own company that now employs more than 500 people. He said he has the regulatory knowledge required for the business and professional licensing part of the job.

"We need to do everything to make Georgia an easy place to start businesses," he said.

Insurance Commissioner

Gerry Purcell was diagnosed with cancer at age 29, and he said that's why he's running for insurance commissioner.

After undergoing successful treatment for the disease, Purcell quit his job in the corporate world and began a career as a health care advocate. He is now regarded as a national medical insurance expert.

Purcell said nationalization of health care is not the solution to the system's problems.

"We have a 10 percent problem and we're about to destroy 90 percent of the greatest health care system in the world," he said.

Purcell said 15 to 25 percent of health care costs could be cut if consumers could purchase health care across state lines. If elected insurance commissioner, he said he would work to develop reciprocal agreements with commissioners in other states.

Meanwhile, Purcell's opponent, State Sen. Ralph Hudgens, said he has the experience required to handle the large, complex office of insurance commissioner.

The office regulates insurance companies, enforces the insurance code and licenses insurance agents. The insurance commissioner also serves as the fire safety commissioner, industrial loan commissioner and comptroller general.

Under the Bush administration, Hudgens was the state executive director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service, overseeing 1,400 employees and 143 county offices. In addition, he has served in the General Assembly for 13 years and has been chairman of the senate Insurance Committee for five years.

Hudgens said he is also opposed to public option health insurance.

"I'm for less government, lower taxes and greater individual responsibility," he said.

Peachtree City Mayor Harold Logsdon is also running for insurance commissioner. Logsdon said he's proven his leadership ability with nearly 40 years of service at BellSouth, where he was a fraud investigator, with the Army National Guard and as mayor.

Logsdon said he has a keen understanding of the regulatory environment that he will use to protect consumers.

Agriculture Commissioner

Gary Black said his platform can be summed up in six words: Safe food, strong farms and responsible government.

If elected, he said his primary goals will be to protect the food supply, preserve the integrity of the marketplace and promote agricultural products.

Black said he would focus on improving employee training and accountability to ensure food safety and also promised better public access to inspection records.

"I will stop at nothing to fix the food safety system of this state so our consumers are protected," he said.

Black has co-managed he Georgia Food Industry Partnership for the past 13 years. The public-private consortium directs research funding for food safety and product improvement at Georgia's research universities. Black has said he wants to create new jobs in agricultural and forest product processing.

Labor Commissioner

State Rep. Melvin Everson said it's time to "stop beating up on corporate America," adding that more pro-business legislation is needed.

Everson said he will partner with the state's Department of Economic Development to attract employers; work with the technical college system of Georgia to place new graduates with growing businesses; and work on improving the processing of unemployment claims.

If victorious, Everson will be the first black Republican to win statewide election in Georgia.

He got the night's most thunderous applause when he spoke against the Obama administration.

"I'm not afraid to speak out against him because he looks like me. It's a sad day when you cannot criticize your leadership," he said.

Crystal Tatum can be reached at crystal.tatum@newtoncitizen.com.