VALDOSTA – Valdosta Mayor Scott James Matheson called it a difference maker referring to Sen. Kelly Loeffler’s third visit to the Azalea City this week.
It’s uncommon in an election cycle, he said, especially this late in the race. According to Matheson, Loeffler did herself some good with the number of trips.
“There was a gentleman standing beside me from Naylor – the guy that had the Trump shirt on – said that he had been backing (Doug) Collins,” Matheson said. “But watching her and watching her during the hearings, he said he was going to change his vote to her.”
That’s at least one vote garnered.
But refusing to look a gift horse in the mouth, Matheson said he asked Loeffler if she’d look into an issue concerning hospital funding.
South Georgia Medical Center applied for a certificate of need to reopen the Smith Northview campus as a fully functional arm of the hospital.
However, a text that came to Matheson Oct. 26 said it had been denied.
“So, I asked her office if they wouldn’t apply a little pressure, to at least look into it,” he said. “She said ‘That is what we do,’ so if that happens because of her trip down today, we’ll all celebrate that.”
And that’s exactly why she came down.
In answering the importance behind coming to Valdosta again, Loeffler said it’s a priority to show South Georgians she’s here to make their voices heard – that she will be their voice.
Given her background growing up as a fourth-generation grain farm worker, she feels a kindred spirit in rural South Georgia and said Democrats aren’t doing anything for the area or its economy.
“Their focus is raising taxes, taking away our private insurance, opening the borders and defunding the police,” she said. “I want our rural communities to know that someone has their back.”
She referenced her passing the Save Rural Hospitals Act of 2020, which amended “Title XVIII of the Social Security Act to preserve access to rural health care by ensuring fairness in Medicare hospital payments,” as an example.
Loeffler endorsed herself as the most conservative person in the U.S. Senate, an outsider, a businesswoman and the only person to vote 100% with President Donald Trump.
Biden is bringing a “dark winter,” she said, and isn’t offering hope and opportunity to all Americans – the American dream.
But the American Dream isn’t the same as it was at the start of 2020.
At this point, the American Dream is getting to a better spot than where most are at: unemployed, permanently closing up shop, distraught.
Georgia is one of a few states that’s gotten back on its feet during the COVID-19 pandemic, Loeffler said, but reopening is a careful process – one that needs to be safe at all times.
“We have to keep one another healthy and safe while we find cures and vaccines,” she said.
Though with Trump as well as several of his and Vice President Mike Pence’s aides being found positive with COVID-19, is the White House leading with an example of safety?
Pence was still following a rigorous campaign schedule just a day after his body man, Marc Short, tested positive for COVID-19.
He did test negative for the virus on Sunday and Monday, according to CNN, but U.S. Centers for Disease Control guidelines say people who’ve been in close contact (within six feet for a total of 15 minutes or more) with a positive COVID-19 case need to self-quarantine.
Pence hasn’t done that and continues his campaign trail. Loeffler said she trusts he will follow the guidelines as that’s what she and her team have done.
“We are wearing masks, doing as much social distancing and outdoor events that we can do – keeping our crowds the right size,” she said.
According to Loeffler, the pandemic, this “disease of despair,” is showing heightened alcoholism, substance abuse, domestic abuse and kids are suffering because they’re not in school.
“The Democrats want to keep people locked down and we can’t do that as a society,” Loeffler said. “We have to continue to find ways to keep each other safe and stay healthy.”
To get back a sense of normalcy, an emphasis must be made on the clear and present danger of the virus.
Loeffler said vying for a relief package for small businesses, schools therapeutics and vaccines are the best ways, adding Democratic opposition has been a buffer against it.
“I’m going to keep pushing for that, acknowledging that this is serious and we have to deal with it in a constructive manner,” she said. “I will just say that I will continue to fight for Georgians to make sure that we reopen safely, that we start to find those cures and deliver a vaccine which I’m confident we’ll do very soon.”