Rep. Phil Gingrey, R-Ga., says he is the best U.S. Senate candidate for Republican voters because of his diverse background as a physician and a public servant, and his record proves he is the most conservative candidate in the field who can win the general election.
Gingrey is one of three House Republicans seeking the nomination. Eight Republicans in all are vying for the seat soon to be vacated by retiring GOP Sen. Saxby Chambliss. The party primary is set for May 20.
With such a large field, no candidate is expected to win a majority of the vote on that day. The top two finishers would then face off in a July 22 runoff to claim the nomination. Gingrey told WND his diverse background gives him a leg up in this campaign.
"I am not a career politician, even though this is my 12th year in the United States House of Representatives. I am a career physician. I practiced for 32 years before I began my career as a public servant. I have been blessed, working both at the local level on a community school board, the state assembly, four years in the state senate and now almost 12 years in the House of Representatives. I think that résumé for this job shows that I am uniquely qualified for it and I think that puts me a little bit ahead of my opponents," he said.
As a result of his medical background, Gingrey said repealing Obamacare is far and away his No. 1 goal if elected to the Senate. He even took out an ad late last year promising he would be a one-term senator if he failed to repeal Obamacare over the next six years. That line in the sand even ruffled feathers within his own campaign, but Gingrey said he's making it clear he's running for the Senate to get things done.
"A lot of people get elected to Congress, and sometimes a part of their pledge is a term-limit pledge. There's no accountability," Gingrey said. "This is different. This is an accountability pledge. This is putting skin in the game and telling people and telling the people that I represent from Georgia that I'll get up every day, and that will be my job, and that will be to get rid of Obamacare and replace it."
Gingrey admits his goal is contingent upon Republicans winning back the Senate and taking back the White House in 2016. But he said the stage for replacing Obamacare is already set with the most recent repeal and replacement legislation sponsored by Sens. Orrin Hatch, Tom Coburn and Richard Burr. Gingrey expects the public outrage over Obamacare to increase greatly as more problems strike.
"Wait until next year when the health insurance carriers have to adjust their premiums and raise their deductibles even more than they are now," he said.
The congressman said attacking massive debt and deficits and creating conditions favorable for more job creation will also be major priorities in the Senate.
While Gingrey counts fellow GOP House members and Senate hopefuls Jack Kingston and Paul Broun as friends, he believes voters will find he has the record and the temperament that best suits the state.
"They're both conservatives. Paul is maybe a little bit further to the right of Attila the Hun or certainly than Jack," laughed Gingrey. "I find myself a little bit right in the middle, right where the people of Georgia want me to be."
Rep. Broun criticizes Gingrey and Kingston as being fond of earmarks and voting to grow the size of government, particularly in the George W. Bush administration. Broun also said Gingrey told him that voting for Medicare Part D was one of his proudest moments in Washington.
Gingrey responded on multiple levels, first addressing the Medicare comments.
"If we're talking about private conversations between one-on-one, I've had a number of private conversations one-on-one with Paul. I've had a number of private conversations with Jack. Those are not things I think people should talk about if it is indeed a private conversation," he said.
As for spending and growing government, Gingrey said he stacks up very well against Kingston, who is a longtime member of the House Appropriations Committee.
"I haven't been in Congress but half the amount of time that Congressman Kingston has been," he said. "He has touted the fact that he has given $1.3 trillion back to the Treasury in the aggregate over 22 years. Well, I've given $1.2 trillion back to the Treasury in the aggregate of 11-and-a-half years. So essentially I've given twice as much.
"We're fiscally frugal, sound and solid, and I don't take a backseat to anybody on that," said Gingrey, who also staunchly opposes raising the debt ceiling unless it includes a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution.
Gingrey firmly expects to be in the July runoff and says right now he doesn't care who the other Republican will be.
"I'm just going to row my own boat and let the people of Georgia know what they have in Phil Gingrey and Dr. Gingrey and that he is the most conservative candidate in this race who can win in November," he said.
His confidence is backed up by a recent Public Policy Polling survey showing he is just as competitive against likely Democratic nominee Michelle Nunn.