Dugan and Jack vie for Georgia District 3 Republican nomination

Published 11:13 am Saturday, June 8, 2024

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The May 21 primary and nonpartisan election decided many of the races in Troup County, but not all of the races. The Republican nominees for Georgia’s District 3 Congressional seat, Mike Dugan and Brian Jack, are headed to a runoff election on June 18.

During the May 21 election, Jack almost won outright with 46.7 percent of the vote in the district and received 3,197 of the 7,072 votes cast in the Troup County Republican Primary. In comparison, Dugan received 24.9 percent of the votes in the district and 1,291 votes in Troup. 

Since no candidate received over 50 percent of the votes, the Republican nominee will be decided on June 18. The winner of the runoff will face the Democratic nominee, Maura Keller in November. The winner in November will succeed Drew Fergeson, who announced his retirement from Congress last December; he has held the office since 2017. 

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 the other runoff races, are available on both the Chamber and LDN Facebook pages.

Dugan has served as a Georgia state senator since 2013 and was elected majority leader in 2018. Prior to that, he worked in the construction industry and had a long military career. 

Jack was a senior advisor for Donald Trump’s 2024 presidential campaign. He also served as an advisor for Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, and political director during his term.

Some of the questions asked at the forum were as follows:

What specific changes would you propose to make healthcare more affordable for the middle class?

“We have large pharmaceutical companies that are dictating the costs of medicines that all Americans need. You talk to your local pharmacist here in LaGrange, your independent pharmacists, they are struggling with the cost of being able to provide prescriptions,” Dugan said. 

He proposed, “We have broad health care initiatives in the state, do rural pharmaceutical initiatives in the state where you kind of help those local pharmacies stay in business…That will help reduce the cost of overall health care because a lot of that’s preventative and it helps keep money in the pockets of the citizens that need the help the most.”

Jack said he hoped to take “a hard look” at the COVID-19 pandemic if elected.

“There was a time in our country three years ago, where you couldn’t go into certain restaurants, you couldn’t go into certain businesses unless you had made a choice to get something done with your body. We should not have that,” Jack said. “But what we saw is the pharmaceutical industry over and over again, trying and make a lot of money off of that crisis.”

He added, “One of the things we’ve got to take a very hard look at is ensuring that we lower prescription drug prices and at the same time to let’s look at innovative solutions to make sure healthcare works. A lot of people today prefer at-home health care.”

What specific policies would you advocate to boost Georgia’s economy and create jobs, particularly in rural and economically disadvantaged areas?

“One thing I know Troup has taken advantage of is the tax cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, we created opportunity zones… for business investments to come into communities across the state and within our district to those opportunity zones and go to distressed areas to incentivize that investment locally,” said Jack. “At the same time, too, we’ve got to do what we can to cut taxes to enable businesses to reinvest those savings into communities so that they can build more plants and bring more jobs. 

“I look at it from the reverse…My job is to listen to Troup and see what Troup wants to be and then help them get everything they need to become whatever it is they’re looking for. We talked about manufacturing and industrial a lot, but there’s a different kind of industry out there that’s prevalent across the third district and its Ag[riculture],” said Dugan.

He finished by saying, “There are a lot of people out here that don’t necessarily want to see the geography of the area change. They want to make sure that they can live the life that they want to live, the way they want to live it. So how can the federal government help the best? [It] is getting these over-burdensome regulations out of the way.”

What policies do you embrace as potential pathways to a more robust labor force?

“We need border security, more than anything else right now…We need to have the federal government actually work in conjunction with the state government to secure the border,” said Dugan. “This most recent executive order discussion, the compromise is we’re going to only let 1.5 million people violate the law each year and call that a win. That’s not a win.” 

Dugan continued, “After we had closed the border. We need to have comprehensive immigration reform. We need to seriously take a look at it, that we’re bringing in the people with the skill sets that we need to help us accomplish what we want to do here in our area…Shut it down. And then comprehensive immigration reform.”

“I think one of the challenges we find with rampant illegal immigration is that the policies today do not protect the American worker…It’s a humanitarian problem as well. I mean, there’s no opportunity for Americans to compete for the jobs, Jack said. “So we absolutely have to do everything we can to ensure that we have common sense immigration policy and mandate and that’s going to require some tough decisions.”

Jack added that some of his labor concerns involved the 18 to 29-year-old demographic.

“You see tick tock, you see a lot of these technologies coming in. And I don’t think you know, kids coming up today want to do the hard work that so many people in this room have put into your careers,” said Jack. “I think we’ve got to do what we can, as a society to ensure that we’re making sure that the next generation and generation that comes after them ensures that our country continues to have this global standing going forward.”

Each of the candidates was given two minutes to give closing remarks.

“If I take two minutes on this, then I’ve done a poor job meeting with y’all for the last four and a half months….I’m Mike Dugan, I’m running for Congress,” said Dugan, “There are two people to choose from; both are good, decent human beings. It’s not a popularity contest, it’s a job interview where you look and say which one of these has the skill set, the history, and the experience to best represent you.”

Jack ended the night by saying, “I hope we see across our country, that we have this open dialogue about what we accomplished in President Trump’s administration, versus what Democrats want to do to our country going forward. “And I do recognize that I’m a different type of candidate, I’ve never run for public office before but I do think that gives me a unique and fresh perspective to solve some of our problems going forward.”