MACON, Ga. — Longtime Congressman Sanford Bishop has some competition for Congressional District 2.
At least five Republicans say they're running for his seat. One is Maconite Wayne Johnson.
Johnson spent over 30 years as an entrepreneur and CEO of multiple domestic and international businesses in consumer finance and customer service support.
But beginning in 2017, he's gotten into politics, serving as a senior official in the Trump administration's Department of Education.
Johnson calls himself a "compassionate Republican" who has "graceful tenacity" to do what he says is right in Washington and what's best for Congressional District 2.
"If you boil it into a few words, I want to stop the stupid going on in DC," Johnson said.
Johnson is no stranger to Washington D.C. He served as a Chief Strategy and Transformation Officer and Chief Operating Officer in the Department of Education's Office of Federal Student Aid during the Trump administration.
"I was responsible for $1.6 trillion of the taxpayers money and 44 million customers, and you know this situation with regard to putting out about $120 billion a year in new money," Johnson said.
Johnson resigned in 2019, calling the student loan system "broken."
"The student loan program is currently, in its form, a broken system. It was an inappropriate experiment for the federal government to be in the direct lending business," Johnson said in October 2019. "We need to go ahead and wipe the slate clean with regard to the amount of current federal loans."
Johnson says while in D.C., he found that many politicians are "one mile wide and an inch deep," meaning they don't get to the core of issues and correct them. He says the same goes for his opponent Sanford Bishop.
"Sanford has been in a comfort zone," Johnson said.
Johnson says over the past few months, he's traveled to 30 counties, hearing top issues from voters. He says one those is healthcare access in rural areas.
"I served as a Medical Service Corps officer the United States Army and ran a medical battalion aid station for the Eskimo scouts in Alaska, and I will tell you, the Eskimo scouts in Alaska have better access to first line medical care than we see here in Georgia," Johnson said. He says at the end of the day, the state needs more healthcare providers.
Johnson said he also heard from farmers, who say they need more labor, but also water. Several southwestern counties have moratoriums on well drilling.
"One of the ideas I've come up with is how we can actually bring federal funds to help farmers put in deepwater wells and tap into the water that they need," Johnson said.
He also wants to dig into the root causes of law enforcement's struggle to employ and retain officers.
"You know, 30 year veterans making less than $20 an hour and putting their lives on the line. I've got a an idea for a program to have that VA reserve force for Homeland Security and maybe bring some additional pay to those folks," Johnson said.
It's important to note that the man who ran against Sanford Bishop last election, Don Cole, is now Wayne Johnson's campaign manager.
Cole believes Republicans have a chance to flip the seat after this session's redistricting.
The district moved up into northern Muscogee County, lower into Houston County, and also into Thomas County. These changes have shifted the playing field for Republicans, Cole says.
"It's winnable now," Cole said.
"In order to win, I'm going to need every Republican vote, I'm also going to have to have Democrat votes in order to carry the day," said Cole.
The primary election is scheduled for May 24.
If you need to register to vote, that must be done by April 25.
13WMAZ plans to highlight each of the Congressional District 2 candidates through May.