Loudermilk enters congressional race, wins convention straw poll
by Matt Shinall
Apr 25, 2013 | 1526 views | 0 0 comments | 17 17 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Following his candidacy announcement Saturday at the 11th Congressional District Republican Party Convention, State Sen. Barry Loudermilk took the top spot in a straw poll for the U.S. House seat well ahead of the 2014 election.

U.S. Rep. Phil Gingrey will leave the open seat to seek election in the Senate upon the retirement of U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, who announced in January he would not be seeking re-election.

In Loudermilk’s elected offices, including House District 14, Senate District 52 and currently Senate District 14, he has served much of the 11th Congressional District for which he will be vying in 2014. He’s hoping now that his time representing Bartow, Cherokee and Cobb counties will translate well into name recognition as the campaign continues.

“When Congressman Gingrey called me and told me that he was seriously considering running for Senate, we knew that this Senate district was better positioned than any other elected office in that district,” said Loudermilk of his current Senate seat. “Then, when you look at my previous Senate District 52, I’ve already represented Cherokee and virtually all of Bartow at some time or another. There was a lot of prayerful consideration with the family, but the biggest thing is to make sure we had good, solid, conservative representation that reflects the ideas and the interests of the people in this district.”

The 11th Congressional District Republican Party Convention was attended by county party representatives from the four counties in the 11th District — all of Bartow and Cherokee, roughly half of Cobb and a small portion of Fulton — encompassing about 750,000 people. The straw poll taken Saturday included the three candidates to have announced their bids — former U.S. Rep. Bob Barr, State Rep. Edward Lindsey and Loudermilk.

With 190 ballots cast, Loudermilk took 60 percent of the vote with 115 in his favor, followed by Barr with 19 percent, Lindsey with 11 percent and 10 percent remaining undecided.

“We were excited and surprised with the results,” Loudermilk said. “We felt we would do well, but to do that well was surprising. It shows us that our popularity was higher than we thought as well as name ID and that we appealed to a broad sector.

“The people that are typically there are those that are politically engaged, who are involved in your local parties. The way I put it, it’s the ones that other people call when they’re going to the poll and say, ‘Hey, who do I need to vote for?’ because they’re typically more involved and tend to be the influencers in the Republican party.”

Loudermilk first got his feet wet in politics through local party meetings and conventions and still tries to attend every meeting he can. Before being elected to the Georgia House in 2004, he served as chairman of the Bartow County Republican Party.

In his announcement speech Saturday, Loudermilk spoke to his experience in the party and promised to remain connected and involved at all levels, telling those in attendance he doesn’t want to be “from the grassroots,” but that he wants to always “be grassroots.” To that end, he plans, if elected, to commute home each weekend and remain connected to constituents.

His campaign, including fundraising efforts, also will focus on grassroot movements, featuring inexpensive events and broad-based outreach. Loudermilk expressed the belief that having more constituents invested in the campaign, rather than a small group of large investors, makes constituents more engaged and elected officials more accountable.

As the other 11th Congressional candidates have expressed, Loudermilk too feels the nation’s economic situation is America’s most pressing issue and one that Congress has failed to substantially address.

“We’re a year out from the election and issues are going to change significantly, but Washington [D.C.] is broken,” Loudermilk said. “We’re on the edge of a fiscal cliff — you don’t hear about it anymore, but when your debt exceeds everything you produce in the country in a year, that’s a major issue. We can’t continue to operate that way. We can’t spend every year more than we take in in revenue. You can’t raise taxes to bring in more revenue because that further hurts the economy.

“We’ve got to do things to stimulate the economy to generate wealth among the American people and cut our spending and apply that to paying off the debt. The problem we have in Congress right now is instead of dealing with these fiscal issues, they’re reactive toward events of the time.”

His inspiration for entering the Congressional race, he said, is similar to that of entering the military, where he served eight years in the Air Force, and why he first entered politics. The decision was ultimately made with help from his father’s advice.

“I didn’t like the way things were going and my dad always told me, ‘There’s no reason to complain. If there’s something you don’t like, then do something about it or just accept it the way it is, but complaining doesn’t do any good,’” Loudermilk said. “I don’t believe the country is on the right path and from the numbers I saw this morning, neither do about 82 percent of Americans — at least not Congress. So, I want to do my part to get it back in the right direction. I realize I can’t do it by myself, but I can join the ranks that are trying to fight to get this nation turned back around.”

Outside of his political experience, Loudermilk owns a small business — Innovative Network Systems — offering IT services primarily to small businesses.

He has been married to Desiree Loudermilk for 30 years and has three grown children, Travis, Christiana and Michael.

For more information, visit www.loudermilkforcongress.com or email him at barry@barryloudermilk.com. The campaign’s social media pages can be found on Facebook or on Twitter @loudermilk14.