“I Serve God by Serving God’s People”: Sanford Bishop on Seeking a 16th Term to the US Congress
Published 9:17 am Thursday, October 13, 2022
By: D. Jason Berggren and Michael Hooks
Note: D. Jason Berggren is an associate professor of political science at Georgia Southwestern State University. Michael Hooks is a junior majoring in political science at Georgia Southwestern State University.
Election Day is drawing near. It will be held this year on Tuesday, November 8. Early voting starts on October 17. Among the key races this year are the races for the US Congress. It’s a midterm year and midterm years are normally not good for the president’s party.
In most midterm years, the president’s party has a net loss of seats. Sometimes, the president’s party loses control over one or both congressional chambers. For example, in 2010 and 2018, the president’s party lost control over the House and in the 2014 it lost the Senate. In 2006, the president’s party lost both houses. This year, Republicans are expected to take the House. With 221 seats, Democrats have a very slim majority and that is not likely to hold. What’s not certain is how many seats Republicans will flip. The Senate is considered a toss-up.
It is rare when the president’s party has a net gain of seats. In the last one hundred years, it happened only three times: 1934, 1998, and 2002.
One of the US House races to watch in Election 2022 is right here in
Georgia’s Second Congressional District. This race features Democratic Congressman Sanford Bishop of Albany and his Republican opponent Chris West of Thomasville. It is expected to be the most competitive of Georgia’s fourteen congressional races.
First elected in 1992, Bishop, at age 75, is seeking a 16th consecutive term. According to several election forecasters, he is favored to win. At the end of September, Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight projected Bishop winning with 56 percent of the vote. The Cook Political Report with Amy Walter, Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball, and Politico also have Bishop winning re-election. Each of these three sites consider the race at present as “likely Democratic.” RealClearPolitics has the
contest as “Lean Democrat.” Such forecasts have continued into October.
Electorally, Congressman Bishop has been formidable. In 2020, he soundly defeated the Republican challenger Don Cole 59 – 41 percent. Of the district’s 29 counties, the Congressman won 17 and lost 12. He carried Sumter County with a 57 – 43 percent vote. Over the years, he has tended to win by large margins. One exception to this was in 2010 when he narrowly beat Mike Keown 51 – 49 percent.
We had the chance to ask the Congressman a few questions by email and he graciously agreed to answer them. Below are the questions we submitted and the Congressman’s responses. The accompanying photos were provided as a courtesy by Bishop’s campaign staff. They are of some recent campaign events attended by the Congressman, including last month’s Plains Peanut Festival.
- MR. BISHOP, AS YOU SEEK ANOTHER TERM TO THE US HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, WHY SHOULD VOTERS SEND YOU BACK TO WASHINGTON FOR TWO MORE YEARS?
Representing the people of the Second District is an opportunity I do not take lightly. As a man of faith who also happens to be an elected official, it is my relationship with God that drives the work I do each day. Because I serve God by serving God’s people, addressing the needs of the people in my District and beyond is more than just a job – it is a ministry. It is a long running ministry of public service with a mission focused on using the legislative process to ensure the proper people, policies, and resources are in place to improve the quality of life for all, especially those in rural communities. I care deeply about the urban communities in my district, and I work hard for them; however, I am passionate about assuring that our rural counties have the resources necessary to realize their full potential. No child, family, or business should be limited by their zip code, and I will continue to work for better rural jobs and economic development, housing, broadband connectivity, water and wastewater systems, community facilities and law enforcement.
While there is more that I want to do, I have a proven and demonstrated record of delivering both in good times and bad. I am well positioned in the House leadership to use my experience to continue delivering effectively to improve the lives of my constituents, and I want to ensure Georgia’s economy remains one of the strongest in the nation when it comes to job opportunities and a future ready workforce.
When elected, I do not disappear to Washington; I remain active in my local community. I come home every weekend to spend time with my family and spend time on the ground talking with constituents whether it’s at my home church in Albany on Sunday morning, a Saturday afternoon festival in Plains, or a Friday evening grocery store run while in Columbus. It is my weekends in the 2nd District that truly fuel the work I do in Congress. I’m able to hear from people directly about their needs and wants and take what I hear and observe back to Washington.
As a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee, I am able to help ensure vital resources are properly allocated. I have secured hundreds of millions of dollars in disaster relief funding for Georgians devastated by Hurricane Michael, resulting in restored communities and improved roads, bridges, and agricultural production. COVID devastated the lives of so many Americans, and I know that, to some extent, the impact will never be forgotten – especially for those who lost loved ones. However, I did work to significantly ease the economic impact nationwide by delivering more than $1 billion in COVID relief funding for hospitals and schools, providing nutritional assistance for families, keeping workers on payrolls, and supporting small businesses and impacted industries. As a veteran and Vice Chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, I will continue to fight for Georgia’s military bases, servicemembers, veterans and their families.
Supporting farmers has always been important to me as agriculture is the state’s biggest economic engine, and I want it to remain that way. For that reason, as a member of the House Agriculture Committee, I helped to craft the Farm Bill, which made historic investments in our food and farm economy by expanding food security programs, protecting our vital natural resources, promoting healthier foods and local food networks, and much more. I am poised to ensure that Georgia’s Second Congressional District’s priorities are included in next year’s Farm Bill.
- IF RE-ELECTED, WHAT WILL BE YOUR LEGISLATIVE PRIORITIES FOR THE 118TH CONGRESS (2023-2024)? WHICH COMMITTEES WOULD YOU SEEK?
My ultimate priority is to use the political process, including my current committee seats, to create a better quality of life for constituents in our urban and rural communities by focusing on key areas that impact our day to day lives. I have delivered millions in funding to local law enforcement agencies to help reduce crime and make Middle and Southwest Georgia a safer place to live, work, and play, but it does not end there. That’s just the beginning. I want to see our communities completely free from crime and drugs, and I expect to do that by identifying ongoing funding for community policing, providing funds for school police, securing good paying jobs for hundreds of new officers as well as funding for necessary training and equipment to effectively do their jobs and keep communities safe. I particularly want to continue to support funding for prevention-based programs that deter youth from involvement in gang and criminal activity.
I will continue to support the Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which is creating thousands of new jobs by rebuilding Georgia’s roads, bridges, airports, and clean water systems; the legislation will also guarantee that all Americans, even in rural areas, have access to high-speed internet. Congress has made significant strides in terms of accessible, affordable healthcare, and I will make sure we continue to look for ways to increase access and lower costs. Tax relief for working families will remain a priority for me as well.
Education plays a significant role in economic recovery, and I have supported legislation that: provided aid to local school districts to prevent teacher layoffs, expanded the Head Start program to accommodate 110,000 additional children, made college more affordable, invests in HBCUs, minority serving institutions, and community colleges to develop and improve educational or career training programs. Making education affordable and accessible is an ongoing priority for me.
- INFLATION CONTINUES TO BE A TOP CONCERN FOR VOTERS. WHAT HAS THE US CONGRESS DONE TO ADDRESS THIS? WHAT MORE SHOULD IT DO?
Inflation is still a major concern, but there have been some important developments. President Biden signed into law the historic Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) in August 2022. The IRA will cap insulin costs at $35 a month and keep out of pocket prescription drug costs at $2000 a year for Medicare recipients. The bill, under the American Rescue Plan, extends subsidies that were to expire by the end of the year and lowers health care costs – saving $800 a year in healthcare premiums for 13 million Americans. I have also worked to lower prices for families in grocery stores and at the gas pump by strengthening the supply chain, increasing domestic oil production, suspending the gas tax, and broadening our renewable energy sources. The bill’s investments in the domestic production of clean energy goods will help the economy transition away from constantly fluctuating fossil fuel prices.
Another effort to address inflation comes through the recent CHIPS and Science Act, which will drastically increase production of American made semiconductors. This effort will not only ease supply chain delays, but it will also lessen our dependence on China for vital technologies of this kind. Inflation can also be lowered by providing incentives to diversify our supply chain, regulating shipping costs, strengthening our stockpiles of critical supplies and medicines, investing in workforce development, and encouraging more competition in the food production, processing, and distribution sectors. I will continue to work on implementing and/or expanding these initiatives.
- IN JUNE 2022, THE US SUPREME COURT OVERTURNED THE 1973 LANDMARK DECISION ROE V. WADE. THE MATTER FOR NOW HAS RETURNED TO THE STATES. WHAT SHOULD THE US CONGRESS DO IN RESPONSE TO THIS RULING?
I believe abortion should be a legal, safe, and available choice in cases of rape, incest or to protect the life or health of a woman. Whether or not to have an abortion is one of the most difficult and heart wrenching decisions a woman will have to make.
Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision, the House has considered numerous pieces of legislation to protect the freedom of women to make their own health care choices. I have supported all of these measures, including The Women’s Health Protection Act, which will protect the right to access abortion care throughout the United States; The Ensuring Women’s Right to Reproductive Freedom Act, which prevents criminalizing, fining or suing women who exercise their constitutional right to travel across state lines to obtain an abortion; The Right to Contraception Act, which guarantees the right to obtain and use birth control; and The Respect for Marriage Act, which would enshrine marriage equality for same-sex and interracial couples within federal law. It is paramount these bills are approved by Congress and sent to President Biden for his signature.
- PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN RECENTLY SAID THAT THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC IS OVER. IS IT? WHAT ARE YOUR VIEWS ON THE COVID SITUATION IN THE COUNTRY? IS THERE ANYTHING MORE THE CONGRESS CAN DO?
While the United States has turned the corner in its fight against COVID-19, we are not yet completely out of the woods; more than 400 Americans are dying each day from the coronavirus. There is more the United States can do to tackle COVID-19 and be better prepared for the next pandemic. The last two-and-a-half years have revealed significant weaknesses in our public health infrastructure at the local, state, and federal levels as well as the glaring health care disparities that exist between Americans of different races, incomes, and geographic backgrounds.
I have been a strong advocate for ensuring that the CDC has the resources it needs to resolve these issues by developing innovative ways to identify and track new disease outbreaks both domestically and internationally; develop testing, treatment, and vaccine distribution protocols; strengthen our public health infrastructure at all levels; address health care disparities; and ensure that scientific integrity remains at the core of its mission.
- IN FEBRUARY 2022, RUSSIA INVADED UKRAINE. DO YOU THINK THE US RESPONSE UNDER PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN HAS BEEN APPROPRIATE AND EFFECTIVE? IS THERE MORE THE CONGRESS SHOULD DO TO HELP UKRAINE?
President Biden has done a masterful job of bringing our allies together to provide a united front against Russia’s aggression toward Ukraine. He was correct to explain to China that there will be substantial economic costs involved if it provides military assistance to Russia to further prolong this conflict and cause needless civilian deaths.
There will continue to be discussions as to further steps that Congress and the Biden Administration can take to help the people of Ukraine. We need to stand ready to help Ukraine in any way that we can now and into the future without triggering World War III.
I have strongly supported efforts in Congress to give the people of Ukraine the tools they need to stand up to Vladimir Putin and the Russian army. On September 30, 2022, Congress approved $12.3 billion in new assistance to power the fight for freedom in Ukraine, including new security, economic and humanitarian assistance. This latest tranche will bring the total funding for Ukraine approved by Congress up to approximately $65 billion.
In an effort to isolate Russia from the world economy, the House has approved legislation to revoke their trade relations and supported the severe sanctions that the United States and our allies are imposing on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine. These sanctions include restricting Russia’s central bank transactions, restrictions on U.S. financial institution transactions, and placing a ban on the import of crude oil, petroleum products, seafood, alcoholic beverages, non-industrial diamonds and more. Sanctions also include bans on export of luxury goods, new investment in Russia’s energy sector, and on Russian aircrafts entering and using U.S. airspace. These efforts will isolate Russia from the world and leave it weakened economically and militarily.