Bloomberg News

Broun Touts English as Official Language in Georgia Senate Race

February 22, 2014

Georgia Senate candidate Paul Broun, seeking to distinguish himself in a crowded Republican primary field, highlighted his support for designating English as the official U.S. language.

Appearing with six other Republicans seeking the party’s nomination, Broun made the language issue a central part of his answer to a question about immigration during a debate tonight in Gainesville, Georgia,

“The only new law I’d like to see passed is one that makes English the official language of America,” said Broun, a four-term U.S. House member.

With no clear frontrunner on the Republican side of the race to replace retiring Republican Senator Saxby Chambliss, Democrats are optimistic about their chances to win in Georgia and have coalesced around Michelle Nunn, the daughter of former Senator Sam Nunn, as their nominee. If no Republican candidate wins a majority in the state’s May 20 primary, the top two vote-getters will compete in a July 22 runoff to decide the nominee.

One of the other Republicans in the race, U.S. Representative Phil Gingrey, also said he supported designating English as the country’s official language.

All seven Republican candidates said they opposed “amnesty” for immigrants in the country illegally and legislation that the Senate passed last year that would grant those immigrants a path to citizenship if they meet certain requirements.

‘Not Enforcing’

“What we do not need in this country is another omnibus bill like Obamacare,” Gingrey said. “We have got sufficient laws. We are just not enforcing those laws.”

Representative Jack Kingston, who has drawn the strongest support among business groups and other traditionally Republican constituencies, touted legislation he’s sponsored that would require immigrants to have a social security number to claim the Child Tax Credit.

Under the current system, there have been cases of immigrants claiming the credit for children who reside in Mexico, Kingston said, adding, “You’ve got to crack down on that kind of abuse.”

In the Republican-led House, leaders last month released a set of principles for revamping the nation’s immigration laws that included potential legal status for some people in the country illegally. That plan prompted a backlash from many House Republicans, and there are no concrete plans to move forward with immigration legislation in that chamber.

In addition to the three congressmen in the race, four candidates -- businessman David Perdue, former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel, minister Derrick Grayson and attorney Art Gardner -- are campaigning as outsiders with the ability to bring fresh energy to Washington and an unpopular Congress.

Perdue is the cousin of former Governor Sonny Perdue. Handel resigned her post as senior vice president for public policy at Susan G. Komen for the Cure after the group decided to restore funding for Planned Parenthood.

To contact the reporter on this story: Kathleen Hunter in Gainesville, Georgia at khunter9@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jodi Schneider at jschneider50@bloomberg.net


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