NORCORSS, Ga. - There is a crowded field of GOP candidates looking to replace outgoing Georgia Senator Saxby Chambliss. With UGA's football team resting on a bye week Saturday, most of the candidates said they spent the day canvassing voter events all over the state.
The Gwinnett GOP's chili cook-off was a prime spot during lunchtime in downtown Norcross. The top five candidates on the GOP side were there to deliver stump speeches and sample chili. Congressman Paul Broun narrowly beat Secretary Karen Handel for first place in a straw poll of those present.
Yet with five top candidates running relatively close, all with similar stances on the major issues, how do Republican voters tell them apart? 11Alive put that question to the candidates themselves. Congressman Paul Broun, Congressman Phil Gingrey, Secretary Karen Handel, Congressman Jack Kingston and David Perdue all oppose the Senate's current plan for immigration reform. They said border security needs to be a more central part of any reform legislation. Broun said he favored legislation to make English the official language of the US.
With the exception of David Perdue, they all said a future government shutdown should remain on the table as an option in the budget debate. Here's what they said would set them apart from the rest of the field. In the order of the straw poll votes each received from those gathered:
Paul Broun: "I vote very strongly on the original intent of the US constitution and that's what I'll do in the US Senate."
Karen Handel: "My opponents together have been in Washington over forty years, what are the results?"
Jack Kingston: "Georgia has always had a senator with a background on the defense committee, I have that background."
Phil Gingrey: "I've delivered over 5000 babies, I have insight on things like tort reform, payment systems- there are hardly any physicians in the Senate."
David Perdue: "I've been out in the free enterprise system, which is absolutely the difference, forty years in the real world."