This is one of five profiles of Republican candidates for Georgia governor. In each, the AJT seeks the candidate’s views on issues of particular interest to the Jewish community. See links to the other four profiles, as well as our dual profile of the two women seeking the Democratic nomination, below.
Hunter Hill grew up in Cobb County and served in the state Senate for five years, but the Army Ranger and father of two left the legislature because he believes he is ready to be the governor of Georgia.
Hill attended West Point and became an infantry officer. He later traveled to Fort Benning, where he became an Airborne Ranger. He led five teams on three combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. Upon his return from his third tour in 2012, Hunter won a seat in the Georgia Senate.
Hill said he entered the gubernatorial race because of his frustration with Republicans who failed to stick up for the principles on which they campaigned. “I got tired of watching people campaign like Ronald Reagan and then govern like Barack Obama,” he said. “I have a conservative vision for Georgia, and we are getting around the state sharing it, which is going very well.”
Hill is the only candidate that has led in combat, led a small business and fought for values in the Senate, he said. “What has lacked in the past has not been conservative candidates — there has certainly been enough of those — but I am both conservative and have the leadership experience to get our ideals and values implemented into policies.”
Read about the other leading Republicans in the governor’s race:
He wants to eliminate the state income tax, something he said career politicians are not ready to commit to, and seeks to expand choices in education. “I think we need a voucher program and free-market principles in K-12 education, which will help elevate it,” he said. “My plan for education is to make it more student-centered.”
Georgia offers a tax credit for donations to scholarship organizations supporting private schools, including Jewish day schools and preschools. The legislature this spring passed House Bill 217 to raise the cap on the credit from $58 million a year to $100 million, a change Hill supports. “I very much support the scholarship and have championed expanding that tax credit for years, so I am glad they did that, and as governor I will support making it even higher.”
Hill also said he is for education savings accounts, equitable funding of charter schools and the end of the common core in education.
In a phone interview he highlighted the connections between conservative and Jewish ideals. “Our nation was founded on Judeo-Christian values and principles, and we can’t let those values and principles be undermined,” he said. “As a Christian, I think I share many similar values if not identical values to Jews, which I have been proud to represent in a portion of Sandy Springs.”
As a conservative, Hill said he stands with Israel and thinks politicians can do more to encourage its economic relationship with Georgia. Because agriculture is Georgia’s No. 1 industry, he wants to export produce to Israel while importing Israeli technology.
“There is great book called ‘Start-Up Nation,’ which highlights the incredible entrepreneurism and innovation that comes out of Israel, and that’s what I want to have in Georgia,” Hill said, “whether that includes partnering from a capital and investment standpoint with Israeli companies or letting people in Israel who intend to move back to the States know that Georgia would be a great spot to start a business and make investments.”
Hill added that he fully supported Gov. Nathan Deal’s trade mission to Israel in 2014 and wants to take the Georgia-Israel trade connection to the next level.
That’s why he supports the purchase of Israel Bonds, Hill said. “It makes sense to me, and I think people should look at that as a personal investment not only for themselves financially, but because the concept of Israel is such a strong one that needs to be defended. Israel is our greatest ally in the Middle East. It’s a nation that shares our values. … We need to make sure that we align ourselves with countries that share our values. … Israel is at the top of that list.”
He said that alignment needs to take place at the state and federal levels. “We need to elect leaders that understand that bond that we have for Israel and why it’s important for the longevity of our national interests abroad.”
Hill was among the senators who helped pass legislation against the anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions movement and thinks the BDS movement on college campuses should be crushed. Similarly, he believes that a crime against anyone is a hate crime and should be prosecuted to the highest level of the law. “It’s very important that we stand strong on values that help protect life, which is the foundational principle of our country and why I am against any form of discrimination or anti-Semitism.”
In the context of religious liberty legislation, Hill regards the law as foundational. “Only religious liberty has been downgraded from the strict scrutiny standard as a constitutional protection,” he said. “Whether a person is Jewish, Christian or whatever their religion is, we need to make sure we protect this foundational principle, and I support restoring religious liberty to its rightful protection in the Constitution.”
Hill has pledged to sign a bill to do just that.
But he said he can see how the legislation causes confusion. “The left has candidly suggested that it’s discriminatory, but the legislation was entirely intentional to protect religious minorities, which Jews are, of course, in that category,” he said. “We have to stand up for religious minorities. People always say it’s for Christians, or it’s for this or it’s for that, but it’s for everyone. Everyone in our nation has a faith in something, and religious liberty protects people of all faiths. It’s good for business. It’s good for Christians. It’s good for Jews.”
Islamic terrorists will never bring the United States to its knees because we’re too strong and they’re too weak, Hill said. What could bring the country down, however, are weak career politicians who undermine the principles that make America the greatest country in the world, he said. “That’s the fight of our time.”
More on the governor’s race: