Jim Martin: These polls confirm what we've been hearing from middle class Georgians all across the state who are fed up with Saxby Economics: they're being hit hard by the failed economic policies of the Bush Administration that Saxby Chambliss has supported every step of the way and they're turning to me to stand up for their needs in the Senate.
What we had to do was get that message out. And we've done it through an aggressive approach of early - and expensive television - that has fed our ground and grassroots enthusiasm. It's a risky strategy to spend that much money early but we were able to show just how vulnerable Chambliss is by closing the gap with Chambliss quickly and going into October neck-and-neck.
Question: Why are you running for Senate? What is wrong with the job Saxby Chambliss has done?
Jim Martin: Like most working Georgians, I've felt the pinch of the failed Bush/Chambliss economic policies. From putting gas in the car, to putting food on the table, the cost of living has gotten out of control. This is unacceptable to me. Like most Georgians, I realize that it is time for a change. It is time to put an end to the failed economic policies that have left the middle class behind. It is time to get this country back on track again.
In my 35 years of public service, I have developed a proven track record for bringing about change for the people who need it most. From my service in Vietnam, to my nearly two decades of service in Georgia's legislature, to my leadership of the Georgia Department of Human Resources, I have dedicated my life to standing up for those who don't have a voice. And right now, Georgia families feel they don't have a voice in Washington.
Question: Explain how the gas shortages are affecting Georgia. Has this been a surprise? Who are voters blaming? And what are your solutions?
The shortages have largely passed now, but it was a very serious crisis for several weeks. Governor Perdue could have done a much better job of preparing Atlanta-area residents for the shortages - and then he left on a trip to Europe in the middle of the crisis! Many voters I talk to are unhappy with Governor Perdue for his lack of leadership on the issue.
The folks who are in charge simply don't take these sorts of responsibilities seriously enough. Longer term, we also need to do more to support transportation infrastructure that gives choices to commuters, so that the Atlanta area is better equipped to deal with any future such emergencies and is not paralyzed.
Though obviously I'm running for Senate not Governor, the people I talk to tell me it's time for new leadership. The call for change is as loud here in Georgia as it is anywhere in the country and voters are looking for someone who understand what they're going through and will work hard to address the problems of regular people, whether its gas shortages or a broken economy.
Question: Has the drought had an impact on the state's politics?
Jim Martin: The drought is a major problem for Georgia. There has been virtually no leadership in addressing this issue and without action, the problem will simply grow. Because a statewide problem requires a comprehensive solution, the first step needs to be the development of a statewide water plan - something I have called for and will work on a federal level to accomplish if elected.
Question: Are you in favor of net neutrality?
Jim Martin: Yes.
Question: I know you opposed the bailout. Why?
Jim Martin: As I've said, I strongly believe that action must be taken to stabilize our economy in order for us to start reversing the failed Bush economic policies that have proven so disastrous for the middle class. But what I am not willing to do is to stick taxpayers with an enormous and costly bailout bill, rushed through in haste, which won't even solve the problem. Among other issues, the package failed to address the fundamental problems created by the deregulation of Wall Street. And it lacked consumer protections to stem the abusive lending practices that are at the root of this crisis - practices that I devoted hundreds of thousands of dollars in television ads to sound the alarm on two years ago, long before the mortgage crisis began.
Question: Do you have a position on FISA and government wiretapping?
Jim Martin: The threat of terrorism is real and the government should take all necessary measures to protect us. While I support the overall aims of the recent FISA bill, the inclusion of a provision granting amnesty to telecom providers who permitted the government to listen in on the conversations of Americans without a warrant troubles me. Because I do not believe that the government should craft policy that permits law breaking, I would not have supported the FISA bill that included telecom immunity.
Question: Do you consider yourself a progressive? Why or why not? If yes, why do you think progressives can win in the South?
Jim Martin: Yes. I've often tried to explain why I believe what I do in this way: My mother taught her six sons that we define ourselves by our deeds, not by our words - by living the values that come from our faith. When I was eight years old, I contracted polio. My parents had to isolate me from my brothers and take me out of school for fear that I would infect others. For months, I was confined to my bedroom, visited only by my parents and my doctors. I recovered, but some things in life you never forget. I will never forget what it feels like to need a little help. A government founded on solid principles does not turn its back on children, seniors, or people with disabilities.
Progressives can win in the South because people are fed up with where we are as a country, and they are looking for real change.
Question: Who are your political role models?
Jim Martin: I am lucky enough to count Max Cleland as a friend and a strong supporter of my campaign. Everyone knows of his service to his country, but I am also inspired by his long service to the state of Georgia.
Question: Zell Miller is from Georgia, and there is a long history of candidates turning sharply more right-wing when they get to the Senate. What is going to stop you from moving in that direction?
Jim Martin: Simply put, I am not Zell Miller. I am a proud Democrat and a proud progressive and I would just ask you to look at my record. Over the course of my career, I have earned deep, bipartisan respect as a principled leader for progressive causes. That is who I am and what I will be as Georgia's next United States Senator.
Question: Do you think that Congress should investigate potential criminal activity within the Bush administration after he leaves office, or should Congress choose to ignore them and work on legislation going forward?
Jim Martin: Congress has an awful lot to do in order to get this economy working for the middle class again, and that would be my first priority. That said, laws are meaningless if not applied and applied fairly. If there is reason to believe that Bush Administration officials broke the law, they should be investigated and punished if found guilty just like anyone else.