Three-term Georgia Commissioner of Labor Michael Thurmond has filed to run for U.S. Senate, and will challenge incumbent Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson.
Thurmond is one of the most prominent Black Democrats in the state of Georgia, which increasingly votes Republican.
Before holding his current profession, in which he is in charge of unemployment benefits for tens of thousands of Georgians looking for work, Thurmond was a state lawmaker and head of Georgia's Department of Family and Children's Services.
Below is his complete statement when he spoke in Atlanta recently.
“At its core, Washington is broken.
There is a desperate need for fundamental change in the way the people's business is being conducted in our nation's capital. Middle class families are suffering from the effects of the worst financial and economic crisis since the Great Depression. As I speak, five hundred thousand Georgians and fifteen million Americans are unemployed. The American people are literally crying out for principled, common sense leadership, but unfortunately many in Washington have turned hyper-partisan, deaf ears to their needs and concerns.
Even more troubling, a recent Wall Street Journal poll revealed that approximately eighty percent of Americans do not trust the federal government. In the U.S. Senate I will work to create a smarter, more efficient government focused on solving, not creating problems for the American people. In order to address this crisis in leadership we must have new vision, new leadership and a new direction.
While it is true that we should look forward and not dwell in the past, it is also important to remember how America got into the mess in which it finds itself today: failed economic policies rooted in disregard for meaningful regulation of financial markets, that allowed greedy, reckless Wall Street fat cats to drive our economy into the ground. The stark reality is that America's working families are paying a very high price--- losing their homes, their jobs and their financial future because Wall Street and Washington conspired against the interests of working men and women.
As the nation begins to recover economically, we must take bold action to ensure such a crisis never happens again. That means fighting to create new jobs and spur economic growth. It means creating a fairer tax system that rewards achievement and entrepreneurship. It means investing in infrastructure and in good, new private sector jobs. It means focusing education and training on worker preparation for occupations that are in demand. And it means putting an end to fiscal irresponsibility, reducing and eliminating the federal deficit and returning our country to the fiscal discipline that generated record budget surpluses and a rising standard of living.
It will be difficult if not impossible to make the tough decisions that must be made unless we replace those who, today, stubbornly cling to the status quo, even when it is clear that change is necessary for survival of the American way of life.
But we cannot build a brighter future unless we first begin to build bridges of cooporation that will span the red state blue state divide. We cannot continue to rely on the old regime of Washington insiders whose first inclination is to say "No" to smart economic policies that come down on the side of Main Street instead of Wall Street.
My campaign for the U. S. Senate will focus on demonstrating to Georgia voters that I have the qualifications, courage and conviction to go to Washington and represent the interests of all Georgians. If the people of Georgia will allow me to serve them as their senator I will stand up for families that have been hit hard by unemployment and are struggling to get by. I will stand up for families whose homes are threatened by foreclosure and small business owners who are struggling because bank credit has dried up. I will stand up for families who simply want to provide a good education for their children and support their families. It's time to send someone to Washington who will put you and your family first. We need, no we must have, new vision, new leadership and a new direction.
I choose to hold this press conference here in the Rotunda of Georgia's historic Capitol, beneath the portrait of an elderly General James Oglethorpe, Georgia's founding father, to emphasize the importance of servant leadership. The motto of the Georgia colony was "Not for ourselves, but for others." At this critical juncture in the history of our nation, we need servant leaders in Washington who will forsake political expediency and partisan gridlock. We need leaders who will always place the best interests of our great state and nation before the best interests of the Democratic or Republican parties. If the people of Georgia will grant me the opportunity to serve them in the U. S. Senate they will have a leader that will work tirelessly on their behalf..
We must create a sound foundation on which to grow. We must restore responsibility and accountability to our financial system. To reach those goals, we must restore responsibility and accountability to our economy, create jobs and restore consumer and investor confidence in our markets. We must also get our fiscal house in order. The days of reckless and unnecessary spending on the taxpayers’ credit card must end. We no longer can be beholden to the special interests.
Under the failed economic policies of the past, we saw record surpluses turn into record deficits. We now need sound economic policies so that we stop passing down debt to our grand kids. The days of fiscal irresponsibility must come to an end but it’s going to take fresh faces and a will to work together to make that happen. It's time to send someone to Washington who will put you and your family first. It’s the right thing to do."
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