Jeff Brown: Why I decided not to run for Congress

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 4, 2016

Jeff Brown

Contributing columnist

I announced on Jan. 25, 2016, that I was not going to run for Congress after previously announcing I had formed an exploratory committee to help me decide whether to run.

In that press release I said that in my next opinion column I would go into more detail about this decision. What follows are those additional reasons.

I used my informal accountability group of eight fellow Christians that I formed several years ago to help me find God’s will in regard to this decision.

My brother Les said, “Every day I can share miracles that God is pouring out in Richmond because Les said yes to God and no to Les.”

Doug DeCelle, my minister, shared “The 10 elements in Prayer Discernment” that our denomination created.

Another of my group loaned me a book called “Grace Walk,” which led to challenging ways to understand God’s will such as, “God is more than willing to make Himself known to those who have a genuine hunger for him.”

Going through this reinforced that God speaks to us in many ways — including prayer and then listening for Him, reading the Bible, fellow believers, the writings of great people of faith, songs, research, etc. In the end I felt led to not run.

As far as the aforementioned research, the total cost to run could have been as much as $1 million for the primary, primary runoff and general election, but the previously mentioned $400,000 was the key to getting to the primary runoff.

Since I was not going to self-fund and had no “fire in my belly” to spend the next nine months on the phone asking for contributions, this became one of several other reasons for not running.

In addition to the time needed to raise money once elected, it takes a lot of time in Washington and even more time to serve 700,000 citizens in the 13 counties making up this district when at home. In the end I couldn’t reconcile the huge investment of time from day one of campaigning to the last day I would serve if elected, in deference to other priorities such as my family.

Speaking of family, I want to thank my wife Shirley, son Greg and daughter-in-law Anna for their wonderful input and support, regardless of my decision.

One person called and asked me to step aside in deference to another candidate. If anything, that was on the plus side of running since I am not wild about this potential candidate.

Within five minutes of that call I received another call also asking me not to run because I could do more for Troup County doing what I am doing now versus being in Congress. This call was on the plus side for not running.

I received several hundred calls, emails and postings on Facebook and LinkedIn. A very gratifying part of them was the diversity of responses in support of me running.

One homosexual said, “I’m not sure you’d want support from someone like me.” I assured him I would want his support if I decided to run.

The comment, “gee I thought President Reagan’s was old at age 69 when he ran for his second term” addressed the issue of age, given I am older than 69. I wasn’t concerned about having the energy, health nor mentality to serve about six years, but it was pointed out that serving could accelerate my aging.

“My question to you is, why would you even think of joining/associating with such a group (Congress) of low life people — hogs just feeding at the public trough ???”

While I think that applies to only a few in Congress it does touch on the subject of how much I could really get done in the approximately six years I realistically thought I would serve if elected and re-elected.

Two days after my decision was published I walked into a meeting and was greeted by “I’m sure glad you came to your senses. What were you thinking?” That comment aside I think the decision to explore running was wise, and I’m glad I did it.

Further, I wholeheartedly agree with the statement, “if you aren’t part of the solution you are part of the problem.” I’ve chosen to be part of the solution here versus in Congress.

Jeff Brown is a retired Georgia state representative where he served as chairman of the House Health Appropriations Committee.