Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R)
Elected: 2004, 3rd term.
Born: April 2, 1950, Atlanta .
Education: Attended GA State U., 1969-71.
Family: Married (Joan); 3 children.
Elected office: GA House of Reps., 1992-2004; Min. ldr. 2000-03.
Professional Career: Real estate developer; Owner, L.A.W. Builders, 1982-present.
The congressman from the 3rd District is Lynn Westmoreland, a Republican elected in 2004. Westmoreland grew up in the Atlanta area, left Georgia State University after two years and became a real estate broker and homebuilder in Fayette County. After losing two races for the state Senate, Westmoreland was elected in 1992 to the Georgia House, where he founded the Conservative Policy Caucus, a group of fiscally conservative, anti-tax lawmakers. He got under the skin of the Democratic establishment to say the least; longtime Democratic House Speaker Tom Murphy once called him “a braying jackass.” In 2000, he was elected House Minority Leader and in that position refused to agree to tax increases, even when it meant defying newly elected Republican Gov. Sonny Perdue.
|Lynn Westmoreland (R)||225,055||(66%)||($920,966)|
|Stephen Camp (D)||117,522||(34%)||($54,855)|
|Lynn Westmoreland (R)||Unopposed|
Prior Winning Percentages: 2006 (68%), 2004 (76%)
In 2004, Republican Rep. Mac Collins ran for the Senate, and Westmoreland faced a choice between staying in Georgia, where he stood to become speaker if Republicans won a majority in the state House, or running for a safe Republican open seat in the U.S. House. He chose the latter and ran on an anti-spending platform. The primary race was a contest between Westmoreland and Dylan Glenn, a former staffer for Perdue and George H.W. Bush. Glenn, an African-American from Columbus, had run twice unsuccessfully in the 2nd District. He was endorsed by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich of Georgia, who argued that a Glenn victory would help the party appeal to black voters. Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss endorsed Westmoreland. In the primary, he beat Glenn 46%-38%, winning 60% of the vote in his base in Fayette and Coweta counties. Glenn led in the three counties nearest his home base in Columbus. During the three weeks between the primary and the August runoff, Glenn accused Westmoreland of taking excessive gifts from lobbyists, airing an ad that depicted his opponent as a hog. Westmoreland labeled Glenn a “Washington insider” with an inflated resume. Westmoreland won 55%-45%, carrying 12 of the 18 counties.
In the House, Westmoreland has a conservative voting record. Following Hurricane Katrina in 2005, he worked with other conservatives to propose “Operation Offset,” an attempt to limit the cost of the relief and reconstruction efforts in Gulf Coast states. In 2008, he helped to organize a month-long protest on the House floor of Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s refusal to bring up for a vote energy legislation allowing more oil exploration.
He was outspoken in his opposition to the extension of the Voting Rights Act, citing the “great progress” Georgia made since enactment of the law in 1965 and the fact that many of the local communities with the worst records on voting rights “are controlled by minorities.” When the House debated the bill in 2006, he offered an amendment to make it easier for states to opt out of the law’s requirements, but lost. He opposed the bill giving the majority-black District of Columbia a full vote in the House, and in 2007 he was one of two House members who voted against a resolution authorizing special divisions in the FBI and U.S. Justice Department focused on investigating murders during the civil rights era. His views have led to rocky relationships with leading African-American politicians. During the 2008 presidential campaign, he called Democratic candidate Barack Obama “uppity,” then said he was surprised to learn it was a racially loaded term. Westmoreland was among the House Republicans who demanded that Rep. Charles Rangel, a black Democrat from New York, step down as chairman of the Ways and Means Committee pending the resolution of ethics charges against Rangel.
Shortly after he took office, Westmoreland worked intensively with the new Republican majority in the state Legislature to redraw congressional district lines to create more compact districts, with the not unintended benefit of making a Republican incumbent safer and jeopardizing two incumbent Democrats. In March 2005, the Legislature passed a new congressional map designed by a 23-year-old legislative aide to Westmoreland. He has been re-elected with only token opposition and is considered a possible candidate for governor in 2010.