Four candidates vie for US House seat at Chamber forum 

Published 10:00 am Saturday, May 4, 2024

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Four candidates who are seeking the Republican nomination for Georgia’s Third Congressional District competed during a forum hosted by the LaGrange-Troup Chamber of Commerce on April 25.

Candidates Jim Bennett, Mike Crane, Brian Jack and Philip Singleton participated in the forum. Mike Dugan and Raymond Blair are also seeking the seat but did not participate.

The forum was organized by the LaGrange-Troup County Chamber of Commerce and live-streamed by The LaGrange Daily News. Videos of the forum in its entirety, including other races, are available on both the Chamber and LDN Facebook pages.

Bennett is a former police officer and currently lives in Southwest Carroll County.

Crane is a home builder and a real estate agent, who previously served in the Georgia State Senate representing District 28.

Jack was a senior advisor for Donald Trump’s 2024 presidential campaign. He also served as an advisor for Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.

Singleton is a US Army veteran and a former member of the Georgia House of Representatives, representing District 71.

Each candidate was given 90 seconds for each question, with two minutes for an opening and closing statement.

Some of the questions covered in the forum include:


The 118th Congress is said to be one of the most inefficient and unproductive injections by actual number of a number of bills that have passed largely due to the divisiveness between parties and even within the Republican Party. So if elected, what would you do to ensure the next Congress is accomplishing more for the American people and the people of this district?

“Frankly, it’s actually been pretty good for America a lot of the stuff that Congress isn’t doing. So there’s a great irony there. The dysfunction, first of all, it’s part of the design of our founders. That’s why we have bicameral chambers. That’s why we have the executive branch versus the legislative branch. So dysfunction is baked into the process,” Singleton said.

“Part of my life has been taking adversarial positions with people that I actually like. When you’re a police officer, you find yourself in adversarial positions where you’re infinitely polite to the other person even though there’s a point that you can no longer go beyond,” Bennett said. “If you’re in negotiations to buy anything, whether it’s one or 10,000,  you usually actually like the person that you’re talking to. But there’s a point that you want to go beyond.”

“The Democrats are experts at sticking together and getting to a point where they can move the ball forward that far, and they’ve done this for 40 years. It is not a bad idea for the Republicans to start thinking in the same exact manner,” Bennett said.

“We sat in what we call our caucus meetings, and we wrestled over the issues of the day, whatever they may be. We worked very hard to make sure that the government was restrained to its authorized function so that we as individuals could thrive in our lives without the overbearing pressure of either a state government or a federal government. Most of the work never gets any credit because it happens behind those closed doors fighting for you, fighting for our families, and fighting against the machine that wants to crush us,” Crane said.

“I think the most important thing we can do next time versus before is elect Donald Trump in the White House. You’re going to be a much more functional, much more than effective Congress that will be working hard to enact his America First agenda. We saw it in 2017 and 2018. And I was proud to be a part of that,” Jack said.


Is it possible and should we try to maintain a balanced budget at a federal level? And if so, what tax policies and fiscal responsibility should we have in place to sustain government spending?

“In 2021, Nancy Pelosi exploded our budget by 40 percent because of COVID lockdown downs everything else and trying to prop up the economy. But we haven’t come back down from it. Right now. Our debt of almost $35 trillion is going to crush us. And our children and our grandchildren. I think that a balanced budget amendment would be fantastic. I think line-item vetoes would be fantastic” Bennett said.

“While I was in the Senate, I became a chairman of a budget subcommittee. And what was very interesting about my time in the Senate, if you all remember back in 2011-2012, the economy was very, very difficult. So revenues at the state level were greatly in decline. We went from a $20 billion budget down to a $16 billion budget at the state level, and we were able to deliver the same goods and services that we delivered at the $20 billion level. You’re talking about a 20% cut in revenue stream to the state government, and we were able to manage that. It was difficult but we had to partner with all our partners across the state to make sure this was able to be done. There are two ways to restrain government. One is with the dollar and the other is with a weapon. I prefer to do it with the dollar,” Crane said.

“I think to balance the budget, we’ve got to drastically reduce the size of government. I think you’ll hear that from most people here on stage. I think another thing that we should look at doing is making it a lot easier to hold civil servants accountable. A lot of civil servants get out there and they burrow in. They’re career bureaucrats, and it’s very difficult to fire them because the employee plans are way too stringent and way too strong. We’ve got to make it easier to hold civil servants accountable and you got to drastically reduce the workforce,” Jack said.

“You absolutely can get a balanced budget in Congress. It is possible. The worst thing Congress could do, the worst thing we could have is a Congress that serves the White House. Congress is supposed to serve the people,” Singleton said. “You have to have a Congress that’s willing to say, Democrat or Republican, a $2.5 trillion deficit is completely unacceptable. It doesn’t matter who’s in the White House.”


Do you support community project funding requests and if so, what criteria would you use to determine which projects are recommended for the Third Congressional District?

“I think this is where you get into the federal government has reached well beyond its borders and is collecting money from us and then redistributing it around the country and uneven waves. I think it’s better if we designed the dollar stay here to begin with,” Crane said. “We go down a very dangerous road when we let the federal government take the money and then distribute it out with a set of rules that we don’t want to abide by and with all kinds of strings attached.” 

“I think that the title you used, it’s a very nice thing to hear about it but at the same time that tool is often used to procure votes, right? ‘Hey, I’ll give you this project if you vote for this bill and sacrifice your principles,’ so I share my sentiment,” Jack said.

“It’s important to make sure that it is first within the very first rule is, ‘Is this a problem of the federal government? Things that would fall into that category like infrastructure projects, like inland ports that have a regional value?’ Those are things that can require massive amounts of capital, which was the entire intent behind the community project funding request. Asphalt for an airport expansion. These things are important. They’re very important to regional development,” Singleton said.

“The role of the federal government is not to decide which project, which business and which orchestra is going to get federal tax dollars. That’s not the role of the federal government. The 10th Amendment says give those powers and those ideas to the states and to the people. That’s for us to decide here on our own land with our own people,” Bennett said.