SE Georgia Democrats Join to End 20 Years of Republican 1st District Representation in Coastal Georgia
Disproportionate joblessness, poverty, economic stagnation
BRUNSWICK, Ga., Sept. 28, 2012 /PRNewswire-iReach/ -- Democrats come together here this Saturday at Selden Park to "kick off" the Coastal Democratic Alliance of Georgia, which joins chapters of the Democratic Party from Glynn County, Camden and Ware Counties.
"Banding together will give us a united voice, and a cohesive strategy to regain the 1st Congressional District for Democrats," says Charles Hill, Sr., former vice chairman of the Glynn County Democratic Party.
"The district has serious problems not being addressed by the incumbent 10-term Republican representative, Jack Kingston," Hill adds.
Hill joins other Democrats here in claiming that inland from Savannah's thriving international port and industrial economy, and the wealthy "Golden Isles," the district is mired in economic stagnation and sinking back into deep South poverty, racism and class division.
"This is the state of rural communities here, and throughout Georgia, since the state 'flipped' Republican in the past decade," says Lesli Messinger, Democratic candidate for the 1st District's congressional seat.
"Democrats here aim to change this situation, and this is why I'm running for Congress."
The Savannah businesswoman, wife and mother faces 20-year Republican incumbent Rep. Jack Kingston on November 6th.
Neighboring Congressional districts to the coastal region's west, moving toward Alabama, rank among the poorest in the nation.
All communities have in common disproportionately high numbers of high school dropouts, youth at risk and jobless citizens, including veterans returning from active duty facing unemployment about five percent higher than average, Messinger asserts.
"We don't have economic vitality inland," says Messinger. "And we don't have a Congressman who has a plan to solve that, as he turns a blind eye to the obvious results of such economic blight."
Kingston, Messinger argues, is one of the most extremist Republicans in Congress. "His voting record has consistently derailed measures that would help the middle class, working families, the unemployed, senior citizens and veterans.
"Even though citizens in the district are struggling in the worst economy since the Great Depression, he has voted against unemployment extensions, against safety enhancements for troops on active duty, against one-time disbursements to seniors on fixed incomes.
"He is 100 percent aligned with, and voted to support, Rep. Paul Ryan's 'Plan for Prosperity,' which would turn Medicare into a voucher system and privatize Social Security," Messinger says. "Yet he is now espousing concern for seniors."
He supported President George W. Bush's plan to privatize Social Security, and voted against a bill that would raise the level of taxable income senior on Social Security pay. That equals a tax hike on seniors, Messinger points out.
"He voted against the Seniors Protection Act (HR 5987), which would have given seniors a one-time cost of living increase of $250. He is not in their court."
"Being also pledged to overturn health care reform, he would end all guarantees in place to make sure seniors don't go without medical care, housing and other basic necessities."
Messinger claims Kingston has won by "default" throughout his 10 terms in office, because no Democrat has stepped up to give him a real challenge.
"I am bringing it, however," she says. "By championing the issues in the 1st District that aren't on the radar for Kingston, or any of the extremist Republicans he joins in obstructing the president's efforts to promote economic recovery, I will put a spotlight on the real state of the 1st District, and what its citizens need."
Voter suppression is also an openly acknowledged problem in South Georgia, claims Messinger.
Local Democrats concur. According to NAACP leaders like Henry Moore, president of the organization's Charlton County chapter, there is a crisis in education in rural Georgia, tantamount to "rekindling the institution of slavery."
The lack of education resources in predominantly black communities, from rural regions to colleges, has set education back severely for African-American citizens.
"Since the state went from a Democratic to a Republican governor, backed by a majority Republican legislature and judicial branch, we have no money to support education, not even to pay for basic school improvements," Moore says.
"We have whole communities pumping young people out of high school, and into jail," Moore adds. "We call it the 'school to jail pipeline.'"
Moore explains that, since students in the school systems in question have so many problems, they are often ported straight from 10th or 11th grade special education programs, into jail.
"Then they're on the chain gang, furnishing free labor to the county," Moore says. "It's the latter day equivalent of slavery."
Under 10-term Republican Rep. Jack Kingston, these concerns, which could be solved with an infusion of resources to improve schools, are "not even on the radar," Messinger alleges.
Messinger argues that it is imperative someone change this picture, not only inland from the coast, but also in Savannah.
"Redistricting has brought all of Savannah into the 1st District," she notes. "It is a diverse, predominantly African-American urban center, where poverty and class divisions are deepening.
Labor issues here include the loss of over 700 jobs in the past year, from closings of Tronox and Air Liquide pigment plants. Messinger marched with the Central Savannah Labor Council in July to protest these closings, and to support the federal Bring Jobs Home Act.
"The city, like the region, has whole communities sinking further into poverty, as the wealthy become more and more insulated," Messinger claims.
"The District's real needs are being neglected and will continue to be, if Kingston returns for an 11th term in Congress. He is aligned exclusively with corporate interests, instead of constituents. Something has to be done," says the Savannah businesswoman.
Messinger adds that the Republican incumbent also seems to control most local media outlets.
"No one is reporting on the problems that exist here, and nobody is covering the Democratic perspective, at all, in any district media outlet."
"The media in the district only cover Jack Kingston, and they don't entertain the possibility that Rep. Kingston could face real competition. But I intend to give him a challenge," she says.
For more on Messinger's campaign, go to www.Messinger4Congress.com.
Media Contact: Deborah Dewberry Messinger for Congress, 404-663-5889, email@example.com
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