Doug Collins is a 49-year-old native son of Hall County, a homegrown Republican representing Georgia’s 9th Congressional District.
He’s no interloper from another district who knows neither the geography nor the values of the 9th. That’s how Collins’ campaign paints former Congressman Paul Broun, who used to represent the 10th District, his chief rival in the Republican primary Tuesday, May 24.
“I’m from Northeast Georgia, so I know the issues and the people, which is why I’ve consistently fought for the priorities of Northeast Georgians,” Collins said.
“I believe former Congressman Broun has a record to answer to, and I believe it is my responsibility to respectfully draw contrasts between the two of us. I have a consistent record of fighting for the 9th District, while former Congressman Broun has a record of scandal and corruption,” Collins said.
Collins moved from the state House to the U.S. House with the term that began in 2013. The graduate of the John Marshall Law School in Atlanta sits on the Judiciary and Rules committees.
After two terms on Capitol Hill, Collins said he understands public anger with government.
“The American electorate is tired of false promises and cheap political talk,” he said. “The legislative process was intentionally designed to be slow, deliberate and methodical so that the body could make sound and logical decisions without the heat of passion. The American people are simply using the voice of democracy to demand accountability and results from their elected officials.
“I understand their frustration, which I why I believe we need to fix the process to make it more transparent and open to Americans. … I have always said that I am happy to explain any vote I take, and I mean that. We may not agree on every vote, but I will always answer any question. Too often, people forget who they were elected to serve and what they were elected to do when they get to Washington.”
Collins touts his support for Israel, citing authorship of a bill to require White House reports to Congress on weapons sales in the Middle East. The measure became part of the United States Strategic Partnership Act of 2014.
“I would support raising the level of military aid to Israel,” he said. “We must take every step to help protect Israel and maintain our strong relationship with them. I believe the U.S. should maintain its role as a mediator in the conflict between Israel and Palestine, through close coordination with Israel and a refusal to allow counterproductive efforts aimed at imposing a solution on the parties. I am opposed to one-sided initiatives by the United Nations concerning the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and I have called on President Obama to insist that this conflict be solved at the negotiating table and not by the United Nations.”
Collins opposed last year’s Iran nuclear deal. “We must rein in Iran and prevent them from growing their nuclear program. Iran has continued to act in an aggressive manner, yet the administration has essentially ignored that behavior.”
Collins feels that the primary foreign policy challenge of the next decade will come from the Middle East. “First and foremost, we must protect our nation from ISIS and other Islamic terrorists. If we do not work diligently to unequivocally defeat ISIS and its followers, we will not continue to have the safety and security to effectively address domestic needs. With that being said, America is not intimidated by these terrorists, and we will continue to solve complex domestic issues at home.”
On the home front, Collins wants to update laws used to combat terrorism. “I believe there is a balance between giving law enforcement the tools they need to protect the public and preserving civil liberties and constitutional protections,” he said.
As an example, he cited the Email Privacy Act, passed by the House in April, which would remove law enforcement’s ability to access email messages more than 180 days old without a warrant. “This is not right,” Collins said. Existing U.S. law “was written before email, cloud storage and other modern modes of communication were widely used. I co-sponsored and voted for the Email Privacy Act because it updates our laws in a balanced way that protects privacy while allowing sufficient measures for law enforcement to protect Americans.”
As for budget issues, Collins said: “We must continue to reign in federal spending and work to reduce our burdensome national debt. This is the first generation that will be left worse off than the previous generation, and I find that entirely unacceptable. … The federal government should not go back on its word and strip benefits from those who have been paying into the system their entire adult life, but we do have an obligation to work with younger generations to develop a system that is both fair and sustainable.”
Collins and his wife, Lisa, have a daughter and two sons. They attend Lakewood Baptist Church in Gainesville. The congressman holds a master’s degree in divinity from the New Orleans Theological Seminary and since 2007 has served as an Air Force Reserve chaplain.
“Unfortunately, many of our Judeo-Christian values are under attack,” Collins said. “It is the responsibility of the government to ensure that each person maintains religious liberty. On a federal level, I co-sponsored the First Amendment Defense Act and have personally defended military chaplains’ right to share their faiths and counsel troops. … As a chaplain in the Air Force Reserve and a pastor, these issues are personal for me. I think we must act to ensure that Americans’ freedoms are protected, and I will continue to do so.”
Being the husband of a fifth-grade teacher informs Collins’ positions on public education. “We need to return the power of education to the local level — the parents, teachers and local boards of education. Our students are burdened by excessive testing, our teachers are tied down by bureaucratic red tape, and our parents are frustrated by complex Common Core standards.”
He said he voted for the Every Student Succeeds Act because, while it had flaws, “it did seriously rein in the Obama administration’s — and future administrations’ — ability to bully states into adopting Common Core or other federal standards and assessments,” he said. “I also believe we must institute measures that allow school choice. The Every Student Succeeds Act included reforms that expanded school choice and are a step in the right direction. Children should not be forced to remain in failing schools, and parents should have the ability to choose what schools will best serve their children.”