mostlycloudy
Tuesday June 2nd, 2015 1:33AM

Ga. GOP Senate candidates key on taxes, immigration

By The Associated Press
ATLANTA (AP) -- Republicans in Georgia's feisty Senate race outlined their positions on key issues ranging from taxes to immigration during their final debate on Saturday, just days before their nationally watched primary.

Many of the early questions during the hour-long debate, which was hosted by WSB-TV in Atlanta, centered on the candidates' tax policy and former Dollar General CEO David Perdue's recent remarks about how cutting spending and increasing revenue are both needed to address the country's current fiscal situation. His chief rivals have used those comments to accuse him of supporting tax increases.

"Of all the deceitful and false accusations that have been coming my way, this is absolutely the most outrageous," Perdue said, arguing he has signed a pledge not to increase taxes.

Later, Perdue said he was for reforming the tax structure and implementing a flat tax. Former Secretary of State Karen Handel also said she supports a flat tax, while Rep. Jack Kingston of Savannah said he supports the fair tax and touted his endorsement from former Rep. John Linder, a chief proponent of the plan. Rep. Phil Gingrey of Marietta said Congress should evaluate every tax break extension and eliminate those that may no longer be necessary.

Kingston said Perdue had an opportunity at the time he made the remarks to explain his opposition to raising taxes and didn't. "You should say, `I'm against taxes,'" Kingston told Perdue. "You can't have it both ways."

Republicans need to gain just six seats in November's election to win control of the Senate and can't afford to lose the one retiring GOP Sen. Saxby Chambliss now holds. Democrats debated earlier in the day, although front-runner Michelle Nunn didn't attend.

The GOP debate was scheduled to be televised Sunday at 11 a.m. on WSB-TV and featured frequent clashes between Perdue, who has been leading in the polls, and the rest of the field. Perdue was attacked by Kingston and Handel for not voting in previous Georgia primaries. In response, Perdue said he wasn't living in the state in 2008 and voted in the 2012 presidential primary. There were general state primaries in 2010 and 2012.

"I have voted in every primary," Handel said. "That is a very solid and relevant issue, whether you are committed to our party and to our principles."

Perdue took a swipe at Kingston for touting a project to deepen the Port of Savannah as one of his accomplishments, noting the effort has been years in the making.

"This thing has taken 17 years to deepen that port five feet," Perdue said, adding China opened a port during that time. "We are losing our competitive edge because the congressman is happy to tell us it takes a long time to get projects done."

The candidates spent several minutes discussing immigration issues and what should be done about those living in the country without legal permission. All the leading candidates said they felt the first step was to secure the nation's borders and enforce existing laws. On term limits, Gingrey, Handel, Kingston and Perdue said they support them, while Broun said no.

"The problem is not unlimited terms," said Broun, who repeatedly cast himself as anti-establishment candidate who only votes for legislation if it's constitutional, moral, necessary and affordable.

The Republican candidates were also asked whether they would support Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has drawn a tea-party challenger in his own bid for re-election. Handel and Perdue said they would not, while the three congressmen would not commit either way.

"I'm going to support whoever will sign off on my drive to change the status quo," Kingston said.

"I never pledge what I'm going to do until I know who is running," said Broun, noting he voted against Rep. John Boehner for speaker.

Earlier, the three Democratic Senate candidates blasted Nunn for skipping the debate and accused her of not standing up for Democratic Party values as she goes after Georgia's conservative voters. (See separate story.)

Nunn, the daughter of former Sen. Sam Nunn, has been campaigning as a moderate and is considered the overwhelming favorite to win Tuesday's primary over former state Sen. Steen Miles of DeKalb County; Atlanta psychiatrist Branko Radulovacki; and Todd Robinson, who works for the Columbus Fire and EMS Department.

All three pleaded with voters not to make the primary a coronation.

"Don't let the money win," Miles said.

Radulovacki said Nunn has offered only tepid support for the Affordable Care Act and that she criticized the law's requirement that individuals have health insurance coverage. Eliminating the requirement, he said, "would undermine the entire law" by reducing the revenue needed to finance the new premium subsidies for individuals who buy private policies through online exchanges.

Nunn was elsewhere in Atlanta on Saturday, working alongside volunteers improving an elementary school playground. "She's making a difference today," said her spokesman, Nathan Click, when asked why she declined WSB-TV's invitation.
© Copyright 2015 AccessNorthGa.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Judge denies motions to move, delay Tsarnaev trial
Lawyers for Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev asked a federal appeals court Wednesday to overturn a judge's decision to not move his upcoming trial out of state.
10:02PM ( 5 months ago )
High court to adopt electronic filing of cases
The Supreme Court is belatedly developing an electronic filing system similar to those used in courts around the country, Chief Justice John Roberts said Wednesday in his annual end-of-year report.
7:57PM ( 5 months ago )
Storm brings snow, cold to West for New Year's
A blustery winter storm dumped snow and ice across the West on Wednesday, making driving treacherous in the mountains from California to the Rockies and forcing residents and party-goers in some usually sun-soaked cities to bundle up for a frosty New Year's.
5:19PM ( 5 months ago )
U.S. News
Grass fire impacts rush hour traffic on 985
Rush hour traffic on I-985 was slowed by a grass fire Wednesay afternoon with one lane closed while firefighters fought the blaze.
10:19PM ( 5 months ago )
Hall County conviction, sentencing to be reviewed by SCOGA
The State Supreme Court has agreed to hear the appeal of a Hall County man when they reconvene in January.
2:37PM ( 5 months ago )
Local/State News
Committee leaves transportation funding to lawmakers
Georgia will have to cover a $1 billion to $1.5 billion transportation funding gap to stay economically competitive, a committee of lawmakers is warning in a report issued Tuesday.
5:36AM ( 5 months ago )
US off war footing at year's end, but wars go on
Taking America off a permanent war footing is proving harder than President Barack Obama may have suggested.
6:13PM ( 5 months ago )
GOP leader regrets talk to white supremacists; party leaders rally around him
House Republican leaders rallied around one of their own, Whip Steve Scalise, on Tuesday after he said he regrets speaking 12 years ago to a white supremacist organization and condemns the views of such groups.
6:08PM ( 5 months ago )
Politics
Clarkesville receives statewide water awards
The City of Clarkesville has the second best drinking water in Georgia.
10:33PM ( 3 hours ago )
Hall Planning Commission approves Friendship Rd. development
The Hall County Planning Commission gave unanimous approval Monday evening to rezoning an 8.68-acre tract in southern Hall County along Friendship Road, allowing it to become another part of the significant commercial and residential growth taking place near the recently-opened Northeast Georgia Medical Center Braselton.
9:59PM ( 3 hours ago )
House passes bill to add 'flexibility' to fishing law
WASHINGTON (AP) — Defying a White House veto threat, the Republican-controlled House on Monday approved a bill to give regional fisheries managers more power to set local fishing levels in federal wat...
7:46PM ( 5 hours ago )
Ride operator in 2013 N. Carolina fair mishap pleads guilty
The man at the controls of a thrill ride when it malfunctioned and injured a family during the 2013 North Carolina State Fair admitted Monday to tampering with safety equipment intended to prevent such a mishap.
6:18PM ( 7 hours ago )
US consumer spending flat in April as income, savings rise
WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. consumers held back from spending more in April, deciding instead to channel income gains into savings.Consumer spending was flat in April — the weakest performance in three mon...
4:02PM ( 9 hours ago )