Race Type: Democratic Challenge
Primary Election Opponent: Multiple
Primary Election Date: July 15, 2008
Primary Election Results: Won Primary, 60%
General Election Opponents: Saxby Chambliss (GOP)
General Election Date: November 4, 2008
General Election Result:Lost, 42.5% – 57.5%
Candidate Quote: “My family believes in public service. My study of history makes me proud of our country. My faith calls me to service.”
When he was just eight years old, Jim Martin contracted polio. Afraid he might infect his five brothers or his classmates, Jim was confined to his bedroom for months. That experience filled with fear and loneliness has stayed with Jim, and he will never forget what it feels like to need a little help. And Jim strongly believes that a government founded on solid principles does not turn its back on children, seniors, or people with disabilities. His career thus far has shown him to be a champion for those often ignored and an advocate for progressive health care, education, and environmental policies.
Jim was a progressive Democrat before progressive was cool, and his devotion to public service leads him to challenge Georgia’s U.S. Senator Saxby Chambliss, who is most widely known for the despicable ads he ran questioning the patriotism of former Senator Max Cleland who lost three limbs in Vietnam. Jim’s common sense approach to making government work for the people is best exhibited by his legislative career. During 18 years of service in the Georgia House of Representatives, he authored, built consensus on, and passed more than 60 major pieces of reform legislation. Jim served as Chairman of a number of important committees, including the Judiciary Committee and the Human Services Subcommittee of the Appropriations Committee. He also served as an active member of the Industrial Relations, Special Judiciary, and Children and Youth Committees.
Scanning his list of more than 60 legislative awards is like reading a who’s who of progressive organizations, particularly those who stand up for children and those with special health care concerns. But Jim has been more than just a voice for the voiceless. He has the unique capacity to find common ground, even on tough issues, among powerful interests. As Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Jim was able to craft a legislative compromise on tort reform that merited the praise of both the Georgia Trial Lawyers Association and the Georgia Chamber of Commerce. Not wanting to put their names together on the same award, these organizations presented Jim with bookends to acknowledge his hard work.
Because of Jim’s legislative success and commitment in the areas of health care and human services, Governor Roy Barnes appointed him to serve as Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Human Resources (DHR). His successful management of the some 18,000 employees and over 100 programs in 1,000 locations in all 159 Georgia counties led to the incoming Republican Governor asking Jim to continue in this position.
In 2006, Jim was the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor, where, in a tough environment for Democrats, he won more votes than any other non-incumbent Democrat on the ticket. He was also one of the few candidates anywhere in the country to address the looming foreclosure crisis, which has shaken our nation’s economy and which threatens homeowners across Georgia today.
Jim wants to take his ability to find reasonable solutions to difficult questions to the U.S. Senate. He is committed to American leadership that supports democratic governance, rational economic development, and cooperative responses to world problems. In addition to improving our public schools, Jim will work to protect our environment and make sure that poorer communities do not disproportionately bear the burden of environmental hazards. He also supports policies and programs that protect older Americans from poverty, financial distress, prohibitive health care costs, and consumer fraud.
Jim will make consumer protection a high priority by cracking down on credit card companies and banks that prey on hard-working families and homeowners. Rather than bailing out special interests, as the Bush Administration has done in the current home mortgage crisis, Jim wants relief to go to the families who need it. He will also promote federal investment in alternative fuel sources, cleaner technology, and transportation solutions that make us more productive, independent, and prosperous.
Jim knows that too often the deck is stacked against working people and that most of the folks in the halls of the Capitol have powerful clients with deep pockets. Jim’s focus will remain on ordinary Georgians, folks who work hard and just want a fair shake. Noting his service as a Vietnam veteran, respected legislator, and DHR commissioner, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution endorsed Jim in the July 15th Primary. “Five candidates are seeking the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate and the right to challenge Saxby Chambliss, the Republican incumbent, in the fall. But only one – former state Rep. Jim Martin – has the experience, the character and the intellect demanded for the role.” 21st Century Democrats agree that Jim Martin has the experience, values, and vision that make him the best candidate for U.S. Senate.
Join more than 100,000 21st Century Democrats online
Make a contribution today to 21st Century Democrats
Tune into AmericasDemocrats.com, the weekly podcast for stand-up Democrats