Congressional runoff heats up

In the race to fill the seat of outgoing Congressman Mac Collins, the two Republican candidates in the August runoff are courting the endorsements of some of the top names in the state GOP.

Former White House and state Capitol aide Dylan Glenn and State Rep. Lynn Westmoreland have both announced the backing of some of Georgia’s — and Washington’s — Republican elite.

Glenn and Westmoreland face a Republican runoff for the Collins’ seat, who lost a bid for the Republican nomination to U.S. Senate last week to Johnny Isakson.

This week, Glenn announced the backing of former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, now a GOP pundit, author and television commentator.

Gingrich served as a Georgia representative in the U.S. House from 1979 to 1999.

“I do think this offers Georgia a terrific opportunity to have a fighter,” Gingrich said this week in a telephone interview endorsing Glenn.

Gingrich has endorsed dozens of Georgia congressional campaigns and hundreds nationwide, he said.

Earlier this month, Glenn got the backing of former Congressman J.C. Watts of Oklahoma, the GOP’s first black congressman. If Glenn wins, he would be the GOP’s only black congressman during the upcoming session.

But Westmoreland has announced his own cache of endorsements.

Five Georgia congressmen have announced their support of Westmoreland, including John Linder and most recently, Charlie Norwood. Sen. Saxby Chambliss was also in Atlanta Tuesday stumping for Westmoreland.

“Newt endorsed Glenn in his 1998 campaign so it really didn’t come as a surprise to us,” said Westmoreland campaign manager Alice James, of the former speaker’s backing of Glenn. “Lynn is honored to have the Georgia delegation standing behind him, however, it’s the endorsement of the people of the eighth district (that counts) on Aug. 10.”

State Sen. Mike Crotts, who failed to garner the votes to be in the runoff, said Wednesday he hadn’t decided if he would throw his support to one candidate or another.

Asked if he would seek other offices, the six-term senator said, “I don’t think my political career is over n at least not in my thought process.”

Crotts said he’ll be pushing a November referendum to define marriage in the Georgia Constitution as being exclusively between a man and a woman. Crotts got 11 percent of the vote in the July 20 primary and Tom Mills, a LaGrange educator, got 5 percent.

The winner of the Aug. 10 Republican runoff will face newcomer and the only Democrat candidate for the seat, Sylvia Delamar, in November.

Glenn said he would court Crotts’ constituents and work to “get every voter eligible out there to the polls on Aug. 10.

“I’m humbled and honored to have a great Georgian endorse my campaign for Congress,” Glenn said of Gingrich’s support.

Comparing Glenn to Jack Kemp, Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, Gingrich said, “If we’re going to get things done that Georgians want … then we need people who can do the hard work but who can also get up on the floor of the House in a key debate … and convince other members of Congress that these are the right steps.”

“I know that Dylan will do an extraordinary job,” he added.

Gingrich said he doesn’t consider his backing of Westmoreland’s opponent in the primary a slight to Westmoreland, adding they’ve been friends for years.

“Friendships transcend endorsements or they’re not friendships,” Gingrich said.

Gingrich said he was glad to see black Republicans like Herman Cain come out strong in the primaries.

“Herman Cain, having him as a Republican is good for the party and good for the country,” he said.

If Glenn were elected, he would potentially sit across the aisle from Democratic Congressman David Scott, of the 13th District. But Gingrich said Glenn would be able to work with Democrats and his GOP allies.

“I think there is a growing number of black caucus members who are open to new ideas,” Gingrich said.