Former U.S. Rep. Paul Broun announced Thursday that he will oppose 9th District U.S. Rep. Doug Collins of Gainesville in the May 24 Republican primary.
Broun represented the 10th District in Congress from 2007 to 2015. In 2014, he left the seat to seek the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Saxby Chambliss, but he lost to eventual winner David Perdue.
Formerly of Athens, he has recently moved into the 9th District in Habersham County.
“I’ve had conservatives from all across the district encouraging me to run because they know that I have represented half of the counties of this district,” Broun said in a news release.
Collins’ campaign wasted no time going after Broun, criticizing the former congressman for his timely move into the district. Radio advertisements will begin running today recalling an ethics investigation, according to reports.
“For a man who is fed up with Washington, Paul Broun is so desperate to get back that he is running in a district he doesn’t even live in,” Collins’ campaign told The Times in a statement. “We welcome him to the district and are confident that as he gets to know the people of the 9th and the values we share, he will come to better appreciate the consistent, conservative leadership that Doug Collins has provided.”
Broun, touting his populist stripes, said Collins represents an establishment that needs to be remade.
“It’s as much my district as it is my opponent’s,” Broun said. “I’m fed up with what is going on in Washington, D.C. I feel like we’ve been betrayed by establishment Republicans and Doug Collins is part of the problem.”
Broun cited the omnibus spending bill passed by the majority Republican Congress as a key reason he is seeking the seat.
“That bill funded Obamacare, Planned Parenthood, the Syrian refugee plan and all the bad policies (President) Barack Obama has put into place,” he said. “It creates a bigger deficit and steals our kids’ and grandkids’ future and my opponent voted for it.”
Before leaving Congress, Broun was subject to an ethics investigation over accusations that he misused taxpayer funds to pay a campaign communications consultant. The inquiry was closed when he left office last year. Last fall, one of his aides pleaded guilty to lying to investigators in connection with the case.
Hall County Republican Party Chairwoman Debra Pilgrim said she plans to meet with each candidate, as well as other primary challengers Bernie Fontaine, Roger Fitzpatrick and Mike Scupin, and will host a debate on April 9 at the party headquarters in Gainesville.
“Competition is very healthy,” Pilgrim said of the crowded field, adding that it gives accountability to the electoral process. “It will come down to perception.”