June 4--  The four Republican candidates for Congress in the 12th Congressional District agree it's time for a change in the U.S. Congress and they'd all like to replace Democrat Congressman John Barrow in January.

{mosimage}(L-R) Rick Allen of Augusta, Lee Anderson of Grovetown, Wright McLeod of Augusta and Maria Sheffield of Dublin answered questions in a forum at Southeastern Tech in Vidalia Monday night.

The 90-minute discussion revealed many areas of agreement among the four conservatives. 

Allen is an Augusta contractor who wants "business sense" brought to the federal government.  Anderson is a former state representative who says his experience in state government will help him with efforts to balance the federal budget.  McLeod, a former Navy fighter pilot, says he's the only candidate to have taken an oath to defend the U.S. Constitution.  Maria Sheffield noted she's a strong Tea Party advocate and that the one thing a liberal fears most is a conservative woman.

The forum was sponsored by the Toombs County Republican Party and the Vidalia Area Tea Party Patriots.

County Republican Chairman Jim Collins says a straw poll after the debate gave the edge to McLeod.  He garnered 55 votes, Maria Sheffield got 32, Lee Anderson received 11 and Allen pulled in four votes.  Collins reports more than 150 people attended the program.

Sheffield Claims Victory

After the forum, Sheffield's campaign manager Kathryn Ballou claimed her candidate got the most support if you discount candidates' staff and friends in attendance at the program.

"I am pleased to announce that Maria Sheffield earned 10 times the number of votes of the people she had in her traveling party at the debate tonight. None of her GOP challengers can say the same. Straw polls are fun, but one must discount traveling staff, family, and personal friends when looking to determine legitimate support.

Maria Sheffield is humbled to know that of the uncommitted voters in the room at the debate, she had true grassroots support.

We are thankful to everyone who joined our conservative positive policy campaign. Maria will continue to discuss issues affecting the 12th Congressional District and offer transformational solutions.

Maria Sheffield has one opponent in this race and that is Congressman John Barrow, who proudly proclaims he is working "hand-in-hand" with President Obama. Maria will work hand-in-hand with the taxpayers of GA 12 and will go to Washington to lead on conservative issues, Ballou said.

McLeod's Statement After Vidalia Forum

Friends,

 

Many of you knew me before I ever decided to run for Congress. I appreciate your continued friendship and support as we try to do our small part to put our nation on the right track. For those that have known me, know that I'm not a politician. I have not lived my life lining up a run for political office or spent my time greasing the tracks of local political machines. I've spent my life serving our country and trying to do what's best for my family and our community.

 

I'm sure like me, you've been pleasantly surprised by the positive attention my candidacy has received. Recently, FreedomWorks, one of the most prominent TEA Party groups in America, endorsed my campaign. They did so after fully vetting me and declared that I am "the clear choice for voters who support free markets, fiscal responsibility, and constitutionally limited government."

 

Just last night, the Republican candidates for the 12th Congressional District participated in a candidate forum in Vidalia. After a lively debate about the issues and philosophy, the audience cast their votes in a straw poll to who was their choice for Congress. I am happy to say we won overwhelmingly. 54% of the votes cast were for Wright McLeod, while the other three candidates split the remaining votes.

 

It seems as though voters throughout the District and national conservative leaders are tired of the same old politicians propping up the political status quo. Voters tell me they want new, bold leadership who will deliver real solutions to our nations woes. They are sick of the politics of personal attacks, character assassinations and outright lies. They are sick of politicians willing to say and do anything to get and stay elected.

 

The attention we've  received hasn't been all positive. When you stand up and speak your mind, you're liable to upset the apple cart. When you say you'll fight to cut the pork, special interests squeal. Needless to say, the status quo isn't happy with a candidate who doesn't play their games.

 

I grew up in Richmond County, Georgia. I live in Richmond County today, and I have raised a family and started a small business in the community. Much like Georgia used to be, the Democrat Machine still maintains hold over Richmond County politics. In the past, the elections that held the biggest sway over my day-to-day life were local elections. If I wanted a say in taxes, local schools and public safety, I sometimes had to choose the Democratic ballot during the July primary.

 

Some of my opponents are likely to use my voting history to claim I'm not a real conservative. That's flat false. Like my decision to attend the Naval Academy and serve our country, the decisions I've made were done so because I believed it was the best thing for my community, and ultimately, the right thing to do. Bottom-line, I'm not a politician. I have not lived my life lining up a run for political office or spent my time greasing the tracks of local political machines. I've spent my life serving our country and trying to do what's best for my family.

 

I am running for Congress, not because I want to be an elected official, but rather because our country needs leaders who can make the hard decisions. This campaign is about ensuring America remains the greatest country in the world, a place where opportunities are endless and we are free to pursue our dreams. I hope you'll join me in this quest. If I am fortunate enough to be sent to Congress to serve our community, I will always do what I think is right, and I will continue to honor the oath I took in the Navy to defend this country.

 

I make another promise to you today: What you see is what you get. I have been and always will be Wright McLeod. No apologies, no excuses. Just simply working hard to do what I believe is right.