No one running in the 6th District race for Congress has risked more politically than Republican Judson Hill, who resigned a safe, often-unchallenged seat in the state Senate to try to replace Tom Price in Washington.
In some ways, his decision to seek higher office also is a risk for Israel.
Hill was the strongest supporter Israel had in the Georgia General Assembly. Since taking office in 2005, he had been the driving force behind several pro-Israel measures in the legislature, including legislation forcing Georgia to divest from companies doing business with Iran and a law last year that barred companies boycotting Israel from winning state contracts.
The Israeli Consulate General to the Southeast presented him the Friend of Israel Award one Yom HaAtzmaut, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called Hill to thank him for his efforts.
“For me, support for Israel is extremely important. It’s in my heart, and I believe in it,” said Hill, who has visited Israel twice and who bases his devotion to the Jewish state on a Genesis verse promising that those who stand with Israel will be blessed and those who oppose Israel will be cursed.
“The people of Israel are strong advocates for most of the same principles that I stand on: families and faith and integrity and affordable health care that works, getting government out of your life, reducing your tax and regulatory burden, putting an end to illegal immigration and protecting your borders.”
Hill, an East Cobb resident and member of Johnson Ferry Baptist Church, said he hopes to have a bigger impact on the U.S.-Israel relationship and in opposition to the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement in Congress, but support for Israel wasn’t the driving factor in his decision to be the first Republican to announce a campaign for Price’s seat.
“I just feel we have a unique opportunity here in our country to really chart a new course, fundamentally reform Washington, D.C., get our country back on the right track,” said Hill, who is running as a conservative reformer with a proven record of getting legislation passed and of putting the interests of his constituents above those of his party leadership. He once lost a leadership position in the Senate because he didn’t follow the party’s wishes.
Hill doesn’t plan to change that willingness to be his own man in Washington. For example, he said he would have voted against the failed Republican legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act, in part because it wouldn’t have immediately implemented the replacement for Obamacare.
Health care is one of Hill’s strong issues. He wrote state legislation for health insurance to cover existing conditions, be portable from job to job, and be available for purchase across state lines, and he co-wrote a bill to reduce the frivolous malpractice lawsuits that lead doctors to practice expensive defensive medicine. He also wants federal legislation to keep the provision for children to stay on their parents’ policies until age 26.
Health care legislation, he said, should focus on the patient and the patient-doctor relationship while removing bureaucrats from decisions about care. The measure should lower costs and increase access and choice. Ultimately, Hill would like to see health insurance severed from employment so that people take the coverage they want from job to job.
From support for the military and veterans to the creation of balanced budgets to a reduction in government regulation and tax rates, Hill emphasized that he has a record of actions to back up his words.
The military support is personal for him. His wife, Shelly, is the widow of a man who died while serving in the Navy, and Hill serves as an officer in the Georgia State Defense Force, where he puts his legal expertise to work helping families prepare for military deployments.
“We need to stand up for veterans for the rest of their lives,” said Hill, who agrees with President Donald Trump that the defense budget needs to be increased to properly equip U.S. troops. “They made a commitment. We need to keep our promise to them.”
In an 18-candidate field, including 10 other Republicans and a Democrat, Jon Ossoff, who has raised more money than the other candidates combined, Hill said voters have an important responsibility. “We need to select the conservative who can win this race. The issues are too complex, they’re too important, to send someone there to learn on the job.”