Trucker a long shot against Georgia congressman

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In his first run for office, a Democrat trucker is taking on a seven-term incumbent in Georgia’s heavily Republican 9th Congressional District. John Bradbury of Rising Fawn, a flatbed driver for New York-based Path Truck Lines, said he believes disappointment with incumbents will persuade Northern Georgia voters to vote for him.

“It’s the general tone of politics, the fussing and fighting, instead of talking across the aisles,” Bradbury said. His past three years as a driver have allowed him to hear diverse viewpoints on the radio and to realize that a lack of cooperation exists among factions, Bradbury said.

His opponent, former judge Nathan Deal of Gainesville, ran unopposed in the previous three elections. Deal switched from the Democratic Party to the new U.S. House majority party in 1995, after the Republicans took control in the 1994 “Contract With America” election. He was the 10th District representative, but because of congressional redistricting, now is running in the 9th District. That district was Democrat until recent years, and many local officials remain Democrat, Bradbury said.

Recent polls show Deal in the lead with 60 percent of the vote. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution editorial page has endorsed Deal, calling Bradbury “a truck driver who lacks the experience or resources to be considered a serious candidate.” Bradbury, who turned to trucking after “burning out” after 13 years as an elementary-school teacher, has taken a break from Path Truck Lines since August to focus full time on his campaign. If he loses, he said he probably will return to trucking.

More truck parking is needed, as complying with hours-of-service regulations is difficult when parking is not available, Bradbury said. Fuel prices should be addressed in an energy policy that seeks less dependence on foreign oil, he said.

On the question of the public-private transportation partnerships pushed by the Bush administration – an issue in Georgia and other states, where they often mean tolls or toll increases – he said he has an open mind. “I haven’t looked deeply, and I want to know more before I decide,” Bradbury said.

Illegal workers are an issue in the 9th District, home of Gainesville’s poultry plants and Dalton’s carpet industry, Bradbury said. “We won’t get control with a fence,” he said. Instead, “We need to identify and end easy employment” for illegals, he said.

The war in Iraq, too, is a case of the answer lying between two extremes, Bradbury said. “So much in between ‘Stay the course’ and ‘Cut and run.'”