Gwinnett Daily Post: U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall, Carolyn Bourdeaux face off on congressional district issues at forum

In their first time going to head-to-head in the closely watched 7th Congressional District race Monday, U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall, R-Ga., and Democratic nominee Carolyn Bourdeaux tangled time and again over money.

Of top concern was who is contributing to their campaigns.

“We need to get special money out of politics, period, and that is that,” Bourdeaux said. “Yes, I understand that people on both sides of the aisle play that game, but it is not the right thing for us. What this means is our congressman is funded by PACs. He is funded by lobbyists.

“He is not funded by you all, and I think he should be listening to you all and not PACs and special interests.”

Meanwhile, Woodall — who has himself received contributions from out-of-state groups — pointed to out of state contributions to Bourdeaux’s campaign.

“That doesn’t make her corrupt, that doesn’t make her bad,” Woodall said. “It just makes California and New York incredibly interested in how we decide who (should be elected) this year.”

Woodall and Bourdeaux faced off in front of a standing room only crowd at a candidate forum hosted by the United Peachtree Corners Civic Association at Peachtree Corners City Hall. The event featured candidates in races for county commission, state legislative and congressional districts that represent the city.

The headline matchup, however, may have been Woodall and Bourdeaux. The incumbent congressman and the Georgia State University professor are facing each other in a race that has drawn national attention.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee added Bourdeaux to its Red to Blue Program, targeting the 7th Congressional District seat as one House Democrats feel they have a shot at flipping this fall.

How vulnerable the seat is to flipping, however, depends on which candidate you ask.

“To suggest we’re having some kind of rebellion in the 7th District of Georgia is just nonsense,” Woodall said. “To suggest there are a lot of angry New Yorkers and Californians who want to see Georgians do different things, that’s absolutely true.”

But Bourdeaux said, “People are fed up. They are fed up because of health care. They are fed up with special interest money. They are fed up with the traffic. They are fed up with a lot of the things that are happening in Washington, the rollback of environmental regulations, and there’s just a lot of energy out there.

“People are sick and tired of how we are doing business and Donald Trump is kind of the cherry on top.”

Campaign funding wasn’t the only issue Bourdeaux and Woodall tangled over. They also clashed over issues such as funding for Pell Grants, Medicare and health care, and particularly support for, or opposition to, the Affordable Care Act.

Bourdeaux questioned Woodall about votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act, claiming a repeal of the law would open the door for insurance companies to deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions.

“This is a life and death situation for many folks to lose coverage for pre-existing conditions,” Bourdeaux said. “I am confused. Don’t you care about these folks or are you just too afraid to stand up to the leadership of the House and to the president?”

Woodall argued his votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act would not lead to people being denied coverage based on pre-existing conditions, at one point claiming “we’ll never return to pre-existing exclusions again.”

“What Carolyn would tell you is that if you vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which has destroyed the American health care system, and replace it with something like what Maine has done … that somehow means you’re either corrupt or you don’t care,” Woodall said.

“Don’t believe it. That’s politics at its worst, and from someone who’s never even gotten elected yet, that’s a rotten start.”

Jake Best