With Recount Out, Broun Heads to Hill

Posted July 24, 2007 at 6:28pm

The House is set to welcome a physician, outdoorsman and self-described “agent of change” to its ranks when Paul Broun (R) is sworn in as the new Representative of Georgia’s 10th district.

Broun, whose narrow 394-vote victory over former state Sen. Jim Whitehead (R) was widely regarded as an upset, was certified Monday evening as the winner of last week’s special runoff election to replace the late Rep. Charlie Norwood (R), who died in February.

Because the margin of victory was less than 1 point, Whitehead was able to request a recount. However, on Tuesday afternoon Whitehead issued a statement saying he would not contest the results, according to WRDW-TV in Augusta.

“The people of this district have been without a federal representative since February, and that’s long enough,” Whitehead said in the statement.

Broun could be sworn in as soon as today.

In the first round of the special election, Broun garnered just 21 percent of the vote to the 44 percent earned by Whitehead, who had the support of Norwood’s widow and the late Congressman’s political organization and staff. Eight other candidates originally were vying for the seat, and because none garnered more than 50 percent of the vote, the top two vote-getters squared off July 17.

Broun — who, according to second-quarter filings with the Federal Election Commission, was outspent by more than 2-1 — ran on a conservative platform espousing smaller government, fighting illegal immigration and continuing the war on terror.

“We have an enemy that wants to kill us all,” he said in a video on his Web site. “Given the opportunity, these fanatics will bomb our cities, kill women and children and cut off your head without a second thought. These islamic terrorist hate us, our freedom and our civilization.”

Throughout his campaign, Broun highlighted his status as a Washington outsider, promising to diverge from business of usual. He attributed that to his success.

“I ran as an agent of change and I think that is key, I think people are tired of the status quo in Washington,” he said Monday, pointing out that despite having “essentially the entire Republican establishment” backing his opponent, he still prevailed. (Yet turnout was just 13 percent to 14 percent — higher, however, than initial predictions of less than 10.)

But despite that image, Broun isn’t foreign to the ways of Washington.

He noted he worked for a few years in the late 1980s as a volunteer vice president of political action for Safari Club International, a hunters’ advocacy group — one of Broun’s key issues.

In his campaign materials he frequently made note of his outdoor acumen, saying he frequently hunts and fishes with his teenage son Collins.

He currently is the president of the Georgia Sport Shooting Association, a state affiliate of the National Rifle Association — of which he says he is a lifetime member. He also served as chairman of the Georgia Wildlife Federation.

Beyond hunter and gun rights, he highlighted his desire to expand rural health care access and affordability, promising to fight for patient’s rights — a position congruent with his medical career.

Prior to his campaign for Congress, Broun worked as a physician, frequently billing himself as the only Georgia doctor who almost exclusively makes house calls (and also a “pro-life physician”). He noted Norwood was involved in the medical profession.

Emphasizing the speed at which he graduated, Broun noted in his campaign that he earned his medical degree from the Medical College of George in Augusta and is a graduate of the University of Georgia in Athens, his current hometown.

Broun grew up around politics. His father was a state Senator from Athens for 38 years, serving as a Democrat despite the younger Broun’s firmly conservative views.

It is those views that have shaped his goals and priorities for Washington. He said that once he arrives on Capitol Hill, he wants to tackle border security, shrink government and shore up America’s economic future as well as that of some entitlement programs — which he sees as in jeopardy.

“I think we are heading toward an economic collapse of America and and an economic collapse of Social Security and Medicare if we don’t make some changes,” he said.

As a former Marine and Navy medical officer, he also said he felt the military had been mismanaged at points in recent years and said he wanted to see it expanded.

While he was unsure when, exactly, he would move into his Washington office, he seemed eager to arrive.

“We’ve been without a Congressman since February,” he said, noting that was aggravating by, among other things, the passport backlog “boondoggle.”

“I am very eager to get up there, get sworn in, and get to work,” he said.

And as for the future of those house calls, Broun said he was going to look into ways to continue his medical practice — for his patients and himself.

“It is my intent to try to continue practicing if I can,” he said. “I think it is one of the best inoculations against Potomac fever.”