The winner of the May 20 Republican primary is expected to take the seat given there are no Demo-cratic candidates in the race.
Rose Wing, 1st vice chair of the Cobb GOP, numbered the audience at between 650 and 700 people.
The debate was a fairly tame affair with perhaps the most unscripted moment occurring when the microphone system died as Marietta’s Tricia Pridemore was answering a tax question. While the crowd waited several minutes for the problem to be fixed, some of the candidates pulled out their iPhones and snapped pictures of the audience, sparking amused laughter.
Stop Obama with the power of the purse, Barr says
One of the questions candidates were asked is how they would serve as a check against the “uncontrolled power” of President Barack Obama.
Former U.S. Rep. Bob Barr of Smyrna was first to answer.
“As the House of Representatives member who first called for the impeachment of President Clinton, I have a little familiarity with how to stop a president run amok,” Barr said to applause.
Barr said the president cannot spend “a dime” on the running of the White House without funds appropriated by law from Congress.
“That starts in the House,” Barr said. “And when a president signs an executive order that goes beyond his authority, which we have seen this president do time and time again, it’s time for the House of Represen-tatives to attach a rider to the White House appropriations bill denying any money can be spent for that particular order.”
Barr said the House can do the same thing for any government agency.
“That will do one of two things,” he said. “Either force the president to sign it because he needs that spending bill, or it forces him to do what we did with President Clinton, it forces him to come to the table and talk about these issues on our terms. We have that power in the House. We need to define the rules of the playing field and actually hold this president accountable and stop him through the power of the purse strings.”
Allan Levene of Kennesaw, who has spent a career in the IT business, advised forming a caucus of representatives on both sides of the aisle to stop certain spending bills from passing.
“If you can stop financial bills from passing, it will help check the ability of the White House and the president to run the country by executive fiat and that means a cleaning of the House,” Levene said. “We have to help the current members of Congress to retire. We need new blood in Congress, and we need to, as the Founding Fathers said, the members of the Congress, they do what they need to do and then they leave. At the moment, they do what they want to do, and they stay. And it’s all wrong.”
Lindsey says Georgia won’t participate in Obamacare
State Rep. Ed Lindsey (R-Buckhead) said he has already started several measures to pull back on “the imperial presidency.” Lindsey spoke of cosponsoring House Bill 707 this year.
“What it simply does is it takes on Obamacare, says the state of Georgia will not be a participant in this economic train wreck,” Lindsey said. “The second thing we did this year in the Georgia House and the Georgia Senate is we passed that Constitutional Convention that I called for that will call for a balanced budget.”
Lindsey said the best way to curtail government overreach is to limit how much can be spent.
“Now the federal government has a blank check,” he said. “We need to put an end to that.”
A third action Lindsey called for is ensuring no bill goes to the floor of the House without a majority of the Republican caucus supporting it.
Former state Sen. Barry Loudermilk (R-Cassville) said Congress can’t control the other branches if it doesn’t have a budget.
“For years, we didn’t even have a budget. We were giving a blank check to the president,” Loudermilk said.
Loudermilk said it is necessary to have the courage to stand up and exert the constitutional authority of the legislative branch.
“And third, we have to have the leadership that has the courage to stand up against the president of the United States when he violates his constitutional authority and not give him a blank check and just allow him to borrow money without any control as we just recently did,” Loudermilk said. “We expanded the debt ceiling without any control. We have to have courageous and strong leadership, even in our own party, who will stand up and will exercise the constitutional authority of Congress.”
U.S. Army Col. Larry Mrozinski, retired, a Woodstock resident, also spoke of a leadership problem.
“It is a failed Congress,” Mrozinski said. “It is a failed leadership, and it is full of career-minded individuals.”
Pridemore called for a balanced budget.
“We cannot go on continuing to spend over $17 trillion in the future, borrowing money that we simply may never be able to afford to repay,” Pridemore said. “The second of which we need to use the power of the House committee structure to call in the department heads and call in those agency executives, those bureaucrats, and make them answer for the policies and procedures that they’re passing off as laws. Laws are made by the legislative branch. They’re enacted by the executive branch. And we need to stand firm on that.”
Kerwin Swint, a political science professor at Kennesaw State University who is not endorsing any of the candidates, served as one of the moderators.
Swint said after the debate the evening’s winner couldn’t be chosen based on applause given how many of the candidates’ supporters were in attendance.
“If you were looking for thoughtful answers, stuff that’s not just canned in a box, I thought Barry Loudermilk did a good job of answering the questions in a thoughtful way, putting forth ideas that aren’t focus-grouped and ballot-tested and all that,” Swint said. “I thought Tricia Pridemore did a good job, too, of answering the questions in a thoughtful way. If you were looking for red meat, it was Bob Barr. And Ed Lindsey did a little bit of both. He had some red meat in there, but I think he had some interesting things to say, too.”
As for who Swint believes won the evening: “If I was an unattached voter and just was coming in trying to learn, I would probably go with Loudermilk, but that’s just an off-the-cuff reaction,” he said.