By: Robin Ford Wallace, Reporter
In the only state race represented at the American Legion’s Aug. 7 runoff debates, Georgia House of Representative contenders John Deffenbaugh and Alan Painter, both Republicans who survived July 31’s primary election, managed in a short time to define and differentiate their candidacies.
Painter, a Walker County resident who has described himself as between “very” and “ultra-” conservative, charged in full rhetoric ahead and damn the torpedos. “I plan to run from day one,” he said, vowing not only to slay the Georgia income tax but to hunt down and kill every state and federal regulation he found impeding the orderly conduct of business in northwest Georgia.
Avowing his hatred of unfunded mandates, Painter acknowledged he was a large individual and said he would put his mass to good use in blocking obstreperous governance: “You’re going to find me standing in the doorway,” he said.
In his turn, Dade resident Deffenbaugh took a quieter approach. He went over his background in the community as a church and Scout volunteer, as chairman of the local Republican party, and as one of the Dade County commissioners who built the county Administrative Building without accruing debt.
“I know what it takes to run a county government,” he said. “I have the ability more than that to solve problems, and solving problems is the issue we have.”
Deffenbaugh agreed with Painter that un- and underfunded mandates were a bad thing, not a good thing, and that legislators should “quit making laws just because it feels good.”
“If we keep them simple and we keep them few, they’re easier to maintain,” said Deffenbaugh.
But he reminded Painter that a freshman representative had to work within the system while he strove to “get to be known, get to be trusted and get to be effective.”
The audience at the Legion Hall had not submitted any question for the House candidates, but moderator Tom Black asked Painter if had taken a pledge not to raise taxes. Painter replied that yes indeed he had, and it was printed up at the back of the room if audience members would like a copy.
Deffenbaugh responded that he was not big on pledges. “I don’t think it’s necessary when your life shows who you are,” he said.
So he hadn’t sworn no to taxes as Painter had, said Deffenbaugh, but: “My life says no.”
In overall numbers for District 1, Deffenbaugh had a slight edge over Painter in the July 31 primary at 2,501 votes to Painter’s 2,398, with the other candidate, Mike Nowlin, eliminated at 2,058. Both contenders trounced the other in their home counties, though, Deffenbaugh 1,311 to Painter’s 715 in Dade, Painter 1,683 to Deffenbaugh’s 1,190 in Walker.
The runoff is Aug. 21.