ATLANTA --- A political contest pits a Georgia congressman against a former congressman. Both are running in the Republican primary in the ninth district, northeast of metro Atlanta.
Doug Collins won Nathan Deal’s old seat in Congress six years ago. Paul Broun left Congress to make an unsuccessful run for the US Senate in 2014. Broun has since relocated to Collins’s district – and wants to take his old colleague’s seat.
"Absolutely I’ll support Donald Trump," said former congressman Paul Broun, speaking during an Atlanta Press Club debate taped Friday. Incumbent congressman Doug Collins was less emphatic about Trump. "I think we do have to come together," Collins said in response to a question about his support for the presumptive GOP presidential nominee.
Both Collins and Broun served as GOP colleagues in Congress, yet they are in a political dogfight now.
In Friday's debate, four candidates ganged up on Collins for being insufficiently right wing – because he voted for an omnibus government spending bill supported by nearly the entire Georgia congressional delegation.
"Did you vote for one or not?" Collins asked Broun, while claiming that Broun had also supported a similar bill months after Broun became a member of Congress.
"No I’ve never voted for an omnibus bill, Doug, and you know better than that," Broun replied.
"You know, I would love to go to the parallel universe that Paul lives in," Collins responded.
Meantime, Collins has made an issue of a criminal investigation targeting two of Broun’s congressional staffers. One has been indicted; another has pled guilty to lying to investigators.
"If my chief of staff is indeed guilty of anything, it’s because he willfully and directly disobeyed orders that I gave him," Broun said. "And it’s unknowing to me that he did so."
Broun added that it was not reasonable to hold him responsible for the office scandal.
The primary is May 24.