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What incumbent, challenger have to say in U.S. House race
Taxes Capitol sunset
U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C. - photo by Associated Press

The race for U.S. House 9th District has been quiet between Rep. Doug Collins, R-Gainesville, and his Democratic challenger, Josh McCall.

Doug Collins

Age: 52

Residence: Gainesville

Experience: Collins, who has served in Congress since 2013, has both a background in the ministry and law. He’s also a U.S. Air Force Reserve chaplain.

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Josh McCall

Age: 38

Residence: Gainesville

Experience: A political newcomer, he taught high school from 2003 until this school year, when he began working in his wife’s law practice. 

More info:

There’s been no taking shots at each other or even squaring off in public debate.

But the two certainly have spirited thoughts about how to govern and are working before the Nov. 6 general election to promote their ideas — such as through respective websites — and otherwise achieve victory.

“We feel like we’ve had a lot of success representing the people of the 9th District, and we’re looking forward to continuing that success and keeping the local issues at heart,” said U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, R-Gainesville.

Collins, who has served in Congress since 2013, said he’s driven to run again to continue pushing issues that affect residents, not only nationally, but in a local way. He cited such issues as rural broadband access and health care, and dealing with the Army Corps of Engineers, which governs Lake Lanier.

“These are the kinds of things we’ve been fighting for and we’ve had victories with, and we just want to continue to represent Northeast Georgia,” said Collins, who also is a pastor and lawyer.

McCall, who lives in northwest Hall and is a former educator, got into politics initially because he was annoyed at the direction of the Democratic Party. He then began working to help find a local candidate to oppose Collins. 

The searched ended with him approaching his wife about throwing his own hat into the ring.

Motivating him is a belief that “we’re in a very scary time and ... on a precipice where the constitutional separation of powers is under threat, where there’s one law for the president of the country and one law for the rest of the country,” McCall said.

“I want to win, but ultimately I want a platform to speak out against what I feel is a dangerous shift in our society. I ... can see signs of incipient authoritarianism.”

Collins grew up in Hall County and got his start in politics in Georgia’s House of Representatives in 2006.

An Air Force Reserve chaplain since 2002, he served a combat tour in Iraq in 2008.

For Collins, one of the burning issues “is making sure we have priority spending, making sure we’re looking out for the long-term health of our country in the debt and deficit,” he said.

“We’ve had to go back and rebuild our military, which I’m very proud of, and I think that’s an effort we’re going to continue to do,” he said.

“A pressing issue is still looking at our health care system and making sure we’re finding a solution there that fits for all Americans and is not government-centered but is patient-centered.”

McCall, a Franklin County native and University of North Georgia graduate, taught high school from 2003 until this school year — he now works in his wife’s law practice — and has also been an instructor at UNG. He also teaches Sunday school at First Baptist Church of Gainesville on Green Street.

“Over the last 10 years, I’ve seen some frightening things in our culture, even more deeply than our politics,” he also said last week.

“I’ve seen a lot of fear and hatred. When it comes to things like immigration and war, I have seen a shift in the culture where ... racism and sexism have bubbled up.”

Libertarian Aaron Gilmer, who lives in Dawsonville and is a financial auditor, is trying to get on the ballot through a federal lawsuit, he said. The Secretary of State’s office told him he didn’t have enough registered voters’ signatures to run for the House seat.

On the issues

Taxes, economy

Collins: “The tax package (Congress) passed last year has put money in people’s pockets ... and we’re seeing our businesses expand. We’ve voted to make the individual tax rates permanent. We also have to make sure we’re doing good appropriations ... to look at our debt and our deficit.”

McCall: “We should have a progressive tax. Poor people should pay very little but enough to be bought in, not enough to make them suffer. We should tax middle class people at a reasonable rate. The top tax rate should be around 40 percent ... for corporations like Apple and Amazon.”

Health care

Collins: “We’ve got to find ways to help our rural hospitals and look for ways to make sure we make access to health care affordable for those patients. And we need do so in a competitive environment where, if you need a certain kind of insurance, you can get that without having a one-size-fits-all.”

McCall: “It’s cheaper to cover everybody. (A study was done on) where every single American is covered under health insurance, where nobody would go to the doctor without it being paid for. It would save rural hospitals. It would make sure people would never have to make the decision between life and livelihood.”


Collins: “We not only need to secure our borders, but we need to make sure we have a lawful entry and exit system. We also need to look at legal immigration — those who come here on visas to work, those who invest money, to come here to work. That is something huge in Northeast Georgia.”

McCall: “We need to make sure our chicken plants, our hospitals, our farms, our construction projects have enough workers through an open, transparent, accountable system. There needs to be a 5-year path to citizenship for people who choose to come here and work through the system legally.”

Gun control

Collins: “We need to continue to enforce the laws we have and we need to look into mental health issues. And frankly, we need to look into law enforcement’s response and those who have actually raised warnings with people who are showing signs that they are threatening others.”

McCall: “The active shooter is probably the most powerful person in our society right now. We need universal background checks — no transfer of any firearm without it being tracked — and red flag laws, so that (in cases of) extremely violent and terroristic threats online or in person, we can confiscate weapons.”