Bishop defends record, addresses ethics probe in debate with West

Credit: Screenshot via Atlanta Press Club Facebook page

Credit: Screenshot via Atlanta Press Club Facebook page

U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop said 30 years of serving in Congress has put him in position to deliver jobs and resources to southwest Georgia in ways a newcomer could not.

“I’ve delivered for our farmers, for our military, for their families,” the incumbent Democrat said Sunday. “I believe that I have given good account for my stewardship, and I asked you to compare my resume with that of my opponent and send back a proven leader who has worked and will continue working for you.”

The challenger, Republican Chris West, said during the Atlanta Press Club’s Loudermilk-Young debate that a fresh voice is needed in Washington. West said farmers and business owners are struggling, and that his lack of experience holding elected office is ultimately beneficial to that task.

“I think most folks would tell you that Washington is broken to a large extent, and what the people in this district are recognizing is that the private sector experience where we actually create jobs and bring a businessperson’s perspective is really the benefit,” he said.

After redistricting, this 2nd Congressional District contest was considered a toss-up. But after West defeated a better-funded candidate in the primary, political analysts say Bishop has the edge in November.

A slight majority of voters in the district tend to vote for Democrats, and Black people make up slightly less than half of the population.

Bishop also has a clear money advantage. At the end of September, his campaign account had $1 million left to spend compared to West’s $424,059. West’s campaign raised $341,397 from July 1 through Sept. 30, roughly half of Bishop’s $761,279 haul.

West asked Bishop about an ethics investigation into his use of campaign funds and district office funds. A U.S. House Ethics Committee investigation is still pending. Bishop said that he immediately took action when issues were raised and personally reimbursed the disputed funds.

“Ethics is important; transparency is important,” he said. “And I fully support the highest standards of conduct for members of Congress.”

West was pushed to clarify his position on abortion after dodging questions about whether he felt that any bans should include exceptions for rape, incest or the mother’s health. He said his position has been misconstrued, but did not say specifically that he supports exceptions. He said abortion bans currently on the books allow the risk to the mother’s life to be taken into account.

Asked whether Joe Biden won Georgia and whether there was significant fraud during the 2020 election, West said Biden is president, but he did not say whether he believes the outcome was accurate or legal.

He also alleged that there were claims of election improprieties where complaints were made but nothing was done.

“I don’t know that those issues had a full hearing,” he said.

State and federal investigators and election officials conducted multiple inquiries into such claims and say allegations of election fraud are without merit. Repeated investigations and court cases discredited allegations of wrongdoing.