Tuesday, September 29, 2009

R.J. Hadley Enters Senate Race

`The Rockdale County Citizen.

Actions speak louder than words, said RJ Hadley as he formally announced his run for U.S. Senate before a crowd of about 30 Saturday at the Johnson Park Community Center. And he had the room on their feet, clapping and cheering, by the end of it.

His roughly 15-minute speech at the regular meeting of the Rockdale County Democratic Party centered on a common disparity he wants to work to change.

Hadley called it a gap between the haves and the have nots and he hopes to bridge that gap between "those who already got the American dream and those who you wonder if you ever have a chance to even think about the American dream."

"I'm calling for everybody - left, right, middle - to come together and let's build a bridge over this gap because the gap is getting wider," Hadley said. "What I want to set in place is just a vision. A vision for a bridge ... a bridge forward for Georgia, a bridge forward for this country."

The Democratic candidate will be up against Republican incumbent U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson.

"I'm asking for your support, here in Rockdale County, here in Georgia and here in this country to help me build this bridge, this bridge forward," Hadley said. "Will you support me? ... Can I count on you to be there for me?"

Among those cheering supporters was Dean Johnson.

"You're going to win because you're the first politician that has ever put his finger on the problem," Johnson stood up to say following the speech. "We have to face the fact that wealth belongs to all of us."

If he is successful in securing the nomination during the primaries July 20 and winning the general election next November, Hadley would become Georgia's first black U.S. senator. Former U.S Rep. Denise Majette was the first black to earn a U.S. Senate nomination in 2004, but she lost the election to Isakson.

In an interview after the meeting, Hadley outlined a few driving issues for his run - affordable health care, education and small business.

"Those are going to be my three domestic priorities," Hadley said.

In the main effort to "represent the regular guy, the common man, in D.C.," Hadley said he will continue to travel around the state, "listening to the stories and the hopes and ideas of Georgians all over."

His campaign is going to be a little different from what many may be used to seeing, Hadley said, referencing the big-name endorsements and contribution numbers he may not get.

"But just as we've done before, Rockdale, let's not worry about that," Hadley said. "Let's do what we've always done - put our heads down and we quietly go to work."

Hadley referenced highlights of his time as a delegate, communications chair for the Democratic party and campaign manager for Rockdale County Chairman Richard Oden's successful run for county commission.

But the petition for support didn't come without a disclaimer. Things may get "nasty," Hadley said, referencing mudslinging and "the politics of old."

"All I ask, folks, is we don't just stand down on it. Back me up ... you guys know me. You know what I'm about," Hadley said. "Don't let it stand for one second."

Hadley said he will be there to represent the people, "not special-interest, not corporations. I'm going to be there for the people," Hadley said. "That's what I believe this government is about."

Hadley said he is not interested in "grabbing power for power's sake."

"This is a government of the people, and I'm stepping forward to be a public servant," Hadley said. "That means I work for all Georgians, not just a select few," Hadley said. "That means when you put me there, I'm going to work for you, not the other way around."

Aside from the flash and glamour, Hadley asked for the crowd to just spread the word and "let's just slowly grind this process through."

"And what's going to happen at the end is they're going to be like 'How did that happen?'" Hadley said.

Oden, who was on hand during the meeting to offer support to Hadley, encouraged Hadley to stay the course.

"All it takes is one person to tell another person ... and you'd be amazed at the results," Oden said.

"It really makes me feel good that it's here in Rockdale County," said Democratic Party Chairman Stan Williams. "Rockdale County will be the model for the nation in putting quality folk out there."

Addressing those who may think he is moving too fast, Hadley said "Nothing is impossible if you have belief that it is possible."

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