“I’ve had 30 years of experience building up a business and providing jobs to people in the 10th District,” he said.
The seat is one of just two open races in Georgia this year, made so after U.S. Rep. Jody Hice decided to run for Georgia secretary of state instead of seeking another term in the House.
The district remains a conservative stronghold in east-central Georgia, including all or parts of 18 counties. The winner of the Republican primary on May 24, or possibly a June runoff, will be the heavy favorite in the November general election.
Collins and Jones have been the leading fundraisers in the district, according to the most recent campaign finance disclosures.
Jones, who benefited from a fundraiser Trump held for him at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, raised $265,651.39 during the first three months of the year. That topped the $143,903.93 Collins took in for the quarter.
But Collins holds an edge in cash on hand, with $743,953.40 to Jones’ $128,627.35.
The other candidates participating in Sunday’s debate were former U.S. Rep. Paul Broun, David Curry, Marc McMain, Alan Sims and Mitchell Swan. State Rep. Timothy Barr of Lawrenceville said he was not feeling well and did not attend.
When it came down to policy discussions, the candidates mostly agreed on issues such as banning abortion, providing more support for law enforcement and opposing vaccine mandates and even term limits for U.S. House members.
Broun served four terms in the House starting in 2007. He later ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate before making a failed bid to return to the House in a different congressional district. He faced questions from his opponents about refusing to support term limits and shrugged off the label that he is a career politician.
He said if voters send him back to Washington, he will have the seniority to immediately position him to chair a committee.
“I have the proven, conservative, Christian, constitutional voting record of fighting against this out-of-control spending, out-of-control government,” Broun said. “I voted against that when I was there; I’ll vote against it again.”