COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) — The stakes are high as two Georgia Republicans battle in a primary runoff for the right to challenge longtime Democratic Congressman Sanford Bishop.
West Point graduate and Yale law school student Jeremy Hunt and Thomasville lawyer Chris West are on the Second District June 21st ballot.
The two men — both seeking elected office for the first time – say they are the candidate to beat entrenched Democrat Sanford Bishop.
Hunt moved into the 2nd Congressional District earlier this year.
Hunt announced his intent to run in January on Fox News. Changed his voter registration from Fulton County to Muscogee County in February. Qualified in March.
“I haven’t been here forever, but I got back to this district as soon as I could,” Hunt said.
The Georgia 2nd District lines were recently redrawn. It still leans Democratic, but because of Thomasville and a larger chunk of north Columbus being drawn in — now Republicans have a fighting chance.
The 28-year-old Hunt did a stint at Fort Benning early in his Army career.
His opponent is a home-grown Republican, Chris West, a Thomasville attorney who works as in-house counsel for a commercial developer.
“The thing the Washington D.C. guys who are funding Hunt don’t understand is they honestly think we are stupid down where,” West said. “I really believe that. They think that they can drop him in and fund him to the tune of millions of dollars.”
Hunt said there is a reason the Washington backers are behind his campaign. He has been endorsed by Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley and former South Carolina Gov. Nickki Haley. Hunt and U.S. Sen. candidate Herschel Walker are the only two Georgia candidates Haley endorsed in the primary. She has endorsed about 40 candidates across the country.
“You know it wasn’t so much that the national folks said,’ We have a competitive seat.’ It was the other way around,” Hunt said. “We got in this race, and we demonstrated just how serious a threat we are to Sanford Bishop. And the ability we have to finally flip this seat. People around the country have gotten excited.”
When Hunt failed to win the six-person primary without a runoff, West said it was proof that the outsiders invested in the wrong candidate. Hunt got 37 percent of the vote in the May 24 primary, compared to 30 percent for West.
“They have invested a lot of money. And they are mad. I tell you they are angry,” West said. “They thought they could bury us in money in round money and they were going to bury us outright. And they didn’t.”
Hunt chalks up West’s sentiments to politics.
“Of course, politics gets nasty,” Hunt said. “My opponents have spent collectively close to a million dollars, all of the opponents in our primary in the negative, smearing, lying campaigns about me. … It is angering when people attack you and your family. That is business as usual. Politicians who are always out for themselves. We have stayed on message. And our message is faith family and community.”