October 22, 2012

Candidate profile: Graves has quickly risen the ranks in Congress

Charles Oliver

— U.S. Rep. Tom Graves, R-Ranger, says even he was surprised at how swiftly he was able to take a prominent place in Congress.

Elected in May 2010 to fill the unexpired term of Nathan Deal, who stepped down to run for governor, Graves won his first full two-year term in the November 2010 general election. In December 2010, the House leadership appointed Graves to the Appropriations Committee. That committee oversees federal spending and is considered a plum assignment, one that usually goes only to representatives with quite a bit of seniority. But Graves was one of a handful of freshmen appointed to the committee.

“One might suspect that when you are elected to Congress you get put on the back bench and you have to work your way up to get involved,” he said. “But I was involved from day one in some of these key issues, and I continue to be involved.”

Graves was recently nominated to be chairman of the Republican Study Committee, a caucus of some of the most conservative members of the House of Representatives.

Graves said he is proud that he has been able to assume a position of leadership while maintaining the conservative principles he campaigned on.

“There are a lot of people who are skeptical, and often rightly so, of elected officials who say one thing and go to Washington and do something totally different,” he said.

Graves faces Democrat Danny Grant, an electrician from Ringgold, in the Nov. 6 general election for Georgia’s 14th Congressional District, which includes Whitfield and Murray counties.

Graves says his top priority if re-elected will be the economy.

“We need to create an environment where job creation occurs. That generally is a result of less government interference and a stronger, more vibrant free market,” he said. “Our first step should be to make sure that taxes don’t go up. There’s a push in Washington to raise taxes. Maybe we can’t agree that taxes should be cut, but can’t we at least agree they shouldn’t go up on anyone? And on the regulation side, let’s go back and look and see which regulations were put in place, with good intentions, that had a negative impact on the economy. Then let’s look at rolling them back.”

Graves says government needs to protect people and their rights, but it also needs to be wary of unduly restricting their freedom. He says that when he is back in Georgia many people express concern that the federal government has grown too powerful and too intrusive.

“People believe in America. They love America, but right now they are concerned about the future,” he said.

Born in St. Petersburg, Fla., Graves spent his early years in White, Ga. He earned a bachelor of business administration in finance from the University of Georgia. He and his wife Julie have three children.