ST. MARYS — Few would dispute that U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston, R-1, is a staunch supporter of the military.
His congressional district that stretches along the coast and inland has four bases – Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay in Camden County; Fort Stewart at Hinesville; Moody Air Force Base near Valdosta and Hunter Army Airfield outside Savannah.
But his announcement Thursday that he will seek the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate seat held by retiring Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., has some people wondering how bases in his congressional district and the state will be affected if and when the Base Closure and Realignment Commission meets in 2015.
“There’s always reason to be nervous,” said Tony Wege, professor of political science at College of Coastal Georgia.
President Barack Obama has included a so-called BRAC in 2015 in his proposed budget for fiscal 2014, which begins Oct. 1 and runs through Sept. 30, 2014. He had proposed one in his current budget, but it was shot down by Congress.
There may be little will in the House of Representatives or the Senate to balk this time around, given pressure in Washington to cut spending and reduce the federal deficit.
The economic impact of the base on the community reaches into the ionisphere. Through payroll lone, the impact is $600 million, according to the Camden Partnership, a citizens group created to support Kings Bay.
“I know (Kingston) has been a powerful voice over the years,” [Former national Navy League President Sheila] McNeill said.
If he wins a nomination and fall election in 2014, Kingston would be considered a junior senator, which means it’s unlikely he would be given important Senate committee assignments.
But McNeill said Kingston‘s experience in Congress for two decades will still be influential when it comes to military matters.
Wege said Kingston currently wields significant influence as a member of the powerful House Appropriations Committee, where spending measures originate. It’s unlikely as a freshman he would be given a similar position in the Senate if he wins election, Wege said.“As a junior senator, should he win, he will still be a junior senator,” Wege said.
“His experience may give him a shot at being on a Senate committee. He would have a better shot than a junior Senator without experience.”The individual taking his place in the House would wield little to no clout in Congress, but Wege doesn’t think low seniority will be detrimental. He expects many other advocates from the business and military community would support Kings Bay, if necessary, before the commission meets.
via The Brunswick News.