11 questions for Georgia U.S. Senate candidate Doug Collins

Doug Collins
Doug Collins

Photograph by Greg Nash-Pool/Getty Images

When Republican Senator Johnny Isakson announced he would leave his U.S. Senate seat at the end of 2019 due to health concerns, Governor Brian Kemp appointed Republican Kelly Loeffler, who has served for all of 2020. This race is unusual in that it is a “jungle primary”—meaning a primary election was not held earlier this year to narrow down the field of candidates. As such, there are 21 candidates on the ballot.

Loeffler is running to keep her seat, and as of publication time, has not yet provided responses to our questions. Republican candidate Doug Collins‘s responses are below. You can read Democratic candidate Raphael Warnock’s responses here, and you can read Democratic candidate Matt Lieberman’s responses here.

Responses have been edited for length and clarity.

If you’re elected, what does your first day in office look like?
I have always said I have three reasons for running for U.S. Senate: Jordan, Copelan, and Cameron. Those are my three children, and to me, they resemble exactly what I’m fighting for every day: a better future for the next generation of Georgians. On my first day in office, I will begin my fight in the U.S. Senate to preserve conservative values, to defend the President, and to create opportunities for every American to achieve the American dream. I will continue building off my success in the U.S. House of Representatives by always standing up for the U.S. Constitution and the God-given rights it protects, including fighting for the unborn, our Second Amendment rights, and our religious liberty. I plan to advance economic policies that lift every Georgian by fighting burdensome regulations and keeping taxes low. Ensuring opportunity for all means giving Georgians access to the tools they need to succeed, which is why I will continue working to expand access to broadband [internet]. Georgia is home to a thriving agriculture industry and hardworking farmers, growers, ranchers, and processors, and it’s a priority of mine to advance strong trade deals and fight unfair foreign trade practices to ensure we put Georgia farmers first. Putting America first means securing our border, building the wall, and holding bad actors like the Chinese Communist Party accountable for the decades of harm they have inflicted on the United States. Most of all, I look forward to partnering with President Trump to further his America First agenda, which will ensure that we always put Georgians—and Americans—first.

How would you rate the local and national response to the COVID-19 crisis? What should public officials have done differently, what have they done well, and what responses do you want to see in the future?
Over the last several months, I have worked hand-in-hand with President Trump to provide much-needed relief to American families, small businesses, healthcare professionals, and states and localities. While the global pandemic called for unprecedented relief, our national debt is growing rapidly, and we should be mindful of that as we consider future packages. That’s why I support a scaled-down proposal consisting of meaningful, targeted relief. I also believe it’s critical that Congress does not extend the $600-per-week federal increase to unemployment insurance. I’ve heard from businesses all across Georgia who were struggling to get their employees back to work because their employees were making more staying home. I strongly believe we need to incentivize Georgians who are able to safely return to work to go back to work.

What has the pandemic taught you about yourself?
Throughout this pandemic, I have been reminded to stop and reflect on what’s most important in life: faith and family. As we’ve watched many Americans lose their jobs, businesses, and most importantly, loved ones, I have continued to find hope in the fact that God remains sovereign. In times like these, we must lean on our faith, and we must remember to hold our loved ones close.

Before a vaccine becomes widely available, should Americans be afforded another stimulus check? If so, for how much and who should be eligible to receive it?
President Trump and his administration have been steadfast in negotiating the best possible relief package for the American people, and I hope that Speaker Pelosi will come to the table and negotiate in good faith so that American workers, families, and businesses can receive the relief they’ve needed. I agree with the President that an additional round of stimulus checks not to exceed $1,200 per person should be included a future relief package, but we must remain mindful of how a future coronavirus relief bill impacts our already ballooning national debt. Congress must ensure these payments are targeted to those who truly need them.

Hundreds of thousands of Georgians could face eviction due to the economic hardships spurred by the pandemic, and many of those residents are relying on government-imposed eviction moratoriums to keep them at home for now. But once those protections expire, people will still owe rent. What recourse do they have? And what protections should landlords have for cases of delinquent renters? Should landlord and tenant laws be changed to adapt to the COVID-19 era?
The Trump administration has taken important actions to ensure individuals facing financial hardship tied to the pandemic are not at risk for eviction. Future policies must be mindful of the impact this pandemic has had on both tenants and landlords, who are both experiencing disruptions at the hands of coronavirus. Options currently on the table in ongoing relief negotiations look at providing relief for both renters and landlords, and I look forward to assessing those measures that will provide the most equitable remedy to both renters and landlords.

Do you think America and Georgia still struggle with systemic racism? What safeguards, if any, should be enacted to ensure people of color are not disproportionately afflicted by law enforcement, the criminal justice system, income inequality, and other factors?
Racism does exist in our country, and I will always denounce hatred in any form. But I reject the notion that our law-enforcement officers are systemically racist. In fact, I am appalled by the “Defund the Police” and “Black Lives Matter” movements that seek to [vilify] our officers who put their lives on the line for us every day. We witnessed firsthand the devastating effects of these attacks on our officers earlier this year when District Attorney Paul Howard pursued a political prosecution of Officer Rolfe after the death of Rayshard Brooks. The district attorney, the mayor, and other local leaders turned their backs on our officers, which led to unprecedented violence, shootings, and even murder—including the murder of an 8-year-old girl. Now more than ever, we must stand up for our law enforcement officers, and as the son of a Georgia State Trooper, I will always have their backs.

That said, recent events have highlighted the need for bringing our communities and our law-enforcement officers together to strengthen relations and restore public trust. Last Congress, we were able to achieve historic criminal justice reform through my bill, the First Step Act, by doing just that. It is my hope that, moving forward, Congress can continue working hand-in-hand with President Trump to implement similar strategies and achieve real, bipartisan solutions.

As public protests have broken out in Georgia and around the nation—especially over conflicts between police and people of color—do you believe the federal government should play a role in quelling local tensions? If so, when do you believe it is appropriate to dispatch federal law enforcement or military personnel, and why?
The hateful and violent attacks on our police officers over the last several months have been sick, dangerous, and downright abhorrent. I have consistently called out those perpetuating calls to “defund the police” and stood up against those who have attacked—both verbally and physically—our law-enforcement officers. I fully support the use of federal law enforcement and/or the National Guard to restore law and order and keep our communities safe. In fact, I have praised President Trump, Attorney General Barr, and the Trump administration for launching Operation Legend: a sustained, systematic, and coordinated law-enforcement initiative in which federal law-enforcement agencies have worked in conjunction with state and local law-enforcement officials to fight violent crime. These extra steps are necessary to keeping our communities safe and giving our local law-enforcement officers the support they need in these tumultuous times.

What are the most pressing issues facing the state/nation on the healthcare front? Should Medicaid be expanded? What are your thoughts on the push for Medicare for All? What steps should be taken to help Georgia’s maternal mortality crisis?
I believe the rising cost of prescription drugs is one of the most pressing issues facing our nation on the health care front. Throughout my time in Congress, I have worked to lower the cost of prescription drugs by addressing pharmacy benefit managers—the middlemen that drive up prescription drug prices. For far too long, pharmacy benefit managers have put profits over patients by manipulating drug prices to line their pockets. I have introduced countless bills, like the Phair Pricing Act and the Prescription Drug Price Transparency Act, to lower the cost of prescription medications by increasing transparency and accountability in drug pricing. By reducing the role of pharmacy benefit managers, we can safeguard community pharmacies, protect access to lower-cost medications, and most importantly, ensure patients have access to the medications they need.

Medicaid was created to cover children, people with disabilities, the elderly, and low-income individuals with dependents. Expanding beyond these parameters would weaken the program for everyone and make preserving this crucial healthcare aid for future generations difficult. Any expansions of Medicaid should be carefully scrutinized to ensure the program is able to be preserved for those who truly need it.

The Medicare Board of Trustees has called into question the solvency of Medicare should it continue operating as it is currently. Calls to expand Medicare to every American are dangerous and rooted in a brand of economics that is simply illogical. Medicare for All would result in the purely socialized healthcare we witness in other countries, reducing quality, increasing wait times, and drastically increasing taxes for Americans. I oppose the effort to create Medicare for All.

As the pro-life candidate, I want to protect life at all stages, and that includes protecting our mothers as they carry and give birth to their children. I have been encouraged by the Georgia legislature’s focus on this problem and have been proud to support measures at the Federal level aimed at keeping expectant mothers safe and healthy. Last Congress, I was proud to vote in favor of the Preventing Maternal Deaths Act which established and supported state programs to review and address pregnancy-related deaths. More recently, I supported the Maternal Health Quality Improvement Act in the House which is specifically aimed at addressing maternal health and morbidity in rural areas.

The COVID-19 pandemic has further exposed many weaknesses in Georgia’s healthcare system, particularly in rural Georgia. What can be done to fix the problems?
Rural Georgians need access to quality healthcare and, while the pandemic has created obstacles, it has also shined a light on the benefits of telemedicine [for] rural Americans. Telehealth appointments allow those most vulnerable to coronavirus or those living far away from their doctor’s offices to visit and speak with their doctors from their own homes. I believe the strides our system has made in adapting to the coronavirus through telemedicine will be beneficial to our healthcare system moving forward. To ensure the vitality of telemedicine, however, we have to address the broadband issues plaguing our rural areas in Georgia, and I have been proud to introduce legislation like the Gigabit Opportunity Act and the CAF Accountability Act to do just that.

There’s been fierce debate, especially since the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, regarding term limits in the Supreme Court. Are lifelong term limits sustainable for a high-functioning justice system? Are reforms needed? Why or why not?
I strongly oppose any effort to implement term limits for Supreme Court justices. Once again, when Democrats don’t get their way, they try to change the rules, and that’s exactly what they are doing now. Democrats will do anything they can to stop President Trump from confirming yet another Supreme Court justice, which is why they are working overtime to prevent Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination or to reduce her term. I strongly believe lifelong term limits are necessary to protecting the integrity of our nation’s highest court and ensuring the impartiality of those who serve, and I will continue to oppose any Democrat attempt to change this historic precedent.

Where do you stand on the president’s nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court? What should the confirmation process look like in this and/or future nominations, and what are your thoughts on expanding—or “packing”—the court?
I fully support Judge Amy Coney Barrett, and I firmly believe she should be confirmed before the November election. Judge Barrett is a strong conservative and an outstanding jurist who will protect unborn children, stand up for the Second Amendment, uphold religious liberty, and strictly adhere to the Constitution. President Trump is fulfilling his constitutional duty by nominating her, and now the Senate needs to do their constitutional duty to provide advice and consent.

I strongly oppose expanding or packing the court. I believe Democrats’ latest threat to pack the Supreme Court throws our nation’s history to the wayside in pursuit of political gain and threatens the very foundation of our democracy. Since 1869, the Supreme Court has held exactly nine seats. To make a change during such a tumultuous time in our history diminishes the integrity of our nation’s highest court and sets an extremely dangerous precedent. That’s why I have introduced a Constitutional Amendment to prohibit any changes to the number of justices until 10 years after any such legislation is signed into law. By passing this amendment, we can protect our nation’s highest court from becoming a political football.

Read all of our 2020 candidate questionnaires