Editor’s note: The Herald’s interview with Kelly Rose, Brian Strickland’s opponent in the Nov. 3 General Election, will appear in the weekend edition of the Herald.
McDONOUGH — Although State Sen. Brian Strickland is a veteran lawmaker and confidante of Gov. Brian Kemp, he shares a characteristic with many people wringing their hands over the political landscape of the 21st century.
“More than anything, people are tired of all the noise,” said Strickland, a Henry County resident seeking re-election to the District 17 seat in the Georgia Senate. He’ll face Democrat Kelly Rose in the Nov. 3 General Election.
“Given what’s going on nationally with the presidential race and all the divisiveness we see right now, the red vs. blue, we’re taking the approach of discussing real issues, discussing real bills that I’ve worked on, and not using the one-size-fits-all talking points model,” he said. “The person that represents this district in the Senate is somebody that looks for real problems and delivers solutions – not somebody that just goes up there and campaigns for one party.”
First elected to the Georgia House in 2012, Strickland won a special election in January 2018 for District 17 in the Senate – which includes portions of Henry, Newton and Rockdale counties – and was re-elected to the seat for a full term later that same year. This year’s election represents the third time he’s run for the position and the second time he’s sought election as the incumbent.
In addition to serving as one of Kemp’s floor leaders in the Senate, Strickland serves on the Appropriations, Banking and Financial Institutions, Ethics, Higher Education, Judiciary and State and Local Governmental Operations committees.
He’s championed legislation dealing with elder abuse, family sick leave and human trafficking, among other issues.
“The good thing about being an incumbent is you have a record – for better or worse, you have a record,” he said. “And in the time I’ve represented this area I think I’ve delivered some real good results. That’s the question you have to ask — Do you want your (senator) in the ear of the governor, in the ear of the lieutenant governor, in the ear of the speaker, deciding for this region?”
Strickland called Rose “an activist” and said his opponent is more interested in national partisan politics than getting things done on the state level.
“There’s a clear contrast in this race this time around,” said Strickland, who practices law in McDonough. “The person running against me is an activist, and that’s what they’re campaigning on. They want people to look at the national issues for a party that they fit inside the box of. And instead, we’re talking about the real things we’ve done for the citizens of the counties we represent.”
Perhaps a reflection of the “purple” nature of District 17, Strickland drew some 3,300 fewer votes in June’s Republican Primary than Rose pulled in the Democratic Primary, but he did not see that as a cause for great concern.
“I don’t think it means anything,” he said. “I think you saw a lot of people that might be open to voting for a Republican in the fall but voted in the Democratic Primary. I think that’s why you saw that. The district probably has about the same number of Republicans as it does Democrats. I’ve always had a race that was a purple district. It’s always been that way for me, it’s something I’m used to, and the positive side is that it fits me well and it makes you work.”
Strickland believes he’s been effective in the Legislature because of his ability to work with both Republicans and Democrats, and he said he’s not turned off by a word that so many politicians find abhorrent – compromise.
“People have all different styles (in Atlanta), but I’ve been somebody that’s been able to build bridges, a consensus builder,” said Strickland, who with his wife Lindsay have two sons, Charles Will, 2, and Beecher, 9 months. “And at the end of the day, no matter how much people are yelling at each other nationally, I think what people want more than ever is a leader who can put aside some differences and get real things done and compromise.
“I am not afraid to say I will compromise with people on both sides of the aisle on important issues.”
For more information, visit www.stricklandforgeorgia.com.