David Jenkins enters US House race for Georgia’s 3rd District

State Rep. David Jenkins (AJC file photo)

Credit: AJC file photo

Credit: AJC file photo

State Rep. David Jenkins, R-Grantville. (AJC file photo)

A Republican state legislator and U.S. Army combat veteran entered the race Monday for an open U.S. House district in west Georgia, becoming the first prominent contender to join what’s expected to be a parade of conservatives competing for the deep-red seat.

State Rep. David Jenkins said he can bring “real leadership, real perspective and real solutions” if elected to succeed U.S. Rep. Drew Ferguson, who announced last week he was retiring after four terms representing a district that stretches from Atlanta’s outskirts to the Georgia-Alabama line.

“Our conservative majority must become an effective force in Washington. Our children’s futures depend on it,” said Jenkins. “I vow to do what I have always done: defend liberty and deliver results for my fellow Georgians.”

Jenkins emerged onto Georgia’s political scene in 2020 by defeating state Rep. Bob Trammell, who was the only remaining white male Democrat elected from rural Georgia in the Legislature and the leader of his party’s caucus in the House.

Jenkins won the legislative seat with a promise to back key GOP policies such as anti-abortion legislation that Trammell vigorously fought to oppose. He was also aided by $1 million in spending from national Republicans to capture the Georgia House seat.

A crowded GOP race is already forming to succeed Ferguson, a dentist and former West Point mayor who captured Georgia’s 3rd District with nearly 70% of the vote last year and was once seen as an up-and-coming leader in Congress.

U.S. Rep. Drew Ferguson (R-GA) walks to a House Republican caucus meeting at the U.S. Capitol on Oct. 12, 2023, in Washington, DC. (Win McNamee/Getty Images/TNS)

Credit: TNS

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Credit: TNS

Former state Rep. Philip Singleton plans to enter the race in January. Drawn out of his district two years ago by top Georgia House Republicans, Singleton is now the top aide to U.S. Rep. Rich McCormick and could tap his fundraising apparatus.

Other potential contenders include state Sens. Matt Brass, Mike Dugan and Randy Robertson; former state Rep. Tim Bearden; former state Sen. Mike Crane; and Chris West, the GOP nominee last year for a neighboring district.

There’s also buzz about a bid by Brian Jack, a metro Atlanta native and former White House official who is an adviser to Donald Trump’s comeback attempt. Two others previously filed paperwork to run: Republican activist Jim Bennett and Democrat Rodney Moore.

“There’s going to be a lot of different people in the race – probably eight or 10 will come out the gate,” said former U.S. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, a Republican who retired in 2016 and was succeeded by Ferguson. “But the more they look at it, the race will narrow down to four or five.”

(Westmoreland added: “It ain’t going to be me. I would need a good divorce lawyer if I did that.”)

Feb. 16 2017 - Atlanta -  Former congressman Lynn Westmoreland was among the speakers at the luncheon.   The Faith & Freedom Coalition of Georgia held their annual Legislative Luncheon Feb. 16th at the Georgia Freight Depot next to the state Capitol.   BOB ANDRES  /BANDRES@AJC.COM

Credit: Bob Andres/AJC

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Credit: Bob Andres/AJC

By announcing on Monday, Jenkins moved quickly to stake his claim on the race and line up donors, activists and elected officials. But it also requires him to report his financial disclosures at the end of the year in what would be an early test of the strength of his candidacy.

In his announcement, Jenkins highlighted his background in the 101st Airborne Infantry Division, a police officer, a helicopter pilot for an air ambulance service and a firefighter for the Georgia Forestry Commission.

Jenkins wants to fight “an increasingly woke culture” and said he was skeptical of foreign military aid and efforts by “Democrats to weaponize our federal justice system against law-abiding Americans.”

“We must grow and maintain a strong, conservative majority in Washington,” said Jenkins. “To do that, we must send the right people to Washington.”