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Jack Heddons Kingston
Birthdate: April 24, 1955
Birth Place: Bryan, TX, United States
Residence: Savannah, GA
First Elected: 1992
District: District 1
Undergraduate: University of Georgia
Jack Kingston was born in Bryan, Texas, and now resides in Savannah, Ga. He earned a bachelor's degree in economics from the University of Georgia in 1978.
Kingston sold agribusiness and commercial insurance in rural Georgia before he was elected to the state House, where he served from 1984 to 1992.
He was elected to the U.S. House in 1992.
Kingston and his wife, Libby, have four children.
Jack Kingston has worked to bring federal spending to his district, a practice that has led to some disagreement with his fellow Republicans in Georgia's congressional delegation.
Still, Kingston remains popular in his 1st Congressional District, which spans the Georgia coast and is expected to win a 10th term despite the Democratic stronghold of Savannah being added during redistricting in 2011. The district still contains four military bases. In the 2012 primaries, an unopposed Kingston got more than 60,000 votes, while two Democrats seeking to challenge him racked up just over 28,000 votes total.
In July 2012, Kingston urged other members of Congress to back a measure that would trim $72.3 million from a $608 billion defense spending bill. The amendment would target money that the National Guard spends to sponsor Dale Earnhardt Jr. in NASCAR and the Marine Corps spends on Ultimate Fighting Championship, as well as other military sponsorships from fishing to hot rod racing. Kingston, a Georgian who says he hails from NASCAR and military country, insisted that the sponsorship money was ineffective in attracting recruits. He said it made no sense as the Army and Marine Corps drop in size.
When Kingston's colleagues called in 2008 for an end to earmark spending, he argued that securing local projects is an integral part of his job and of critical importance to local governments.
He helped secure more than $66.7 million for the state in fiscal year 2010, and the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics ranked him 27th among House members obtaining federal funds for their districts. There are four large military bases in Georgia's 1st District, and much of the money Kingston fights for goes to military construction and defense projects.
His efforts only go so far, however, as Georgia still lags behind most other states in per-capita federal spending.
Kingston opposed the 2010 health care reform bill. He voted against the 2009 approximately $800 billion economic stimulus package, attaching an amendment to the package that required any jobs created under that act to be solely for legal workers.
Kingston is known for fiery, often humorous floor speeches, and he is no stranger to controversial comments. He blasted the commission investigating the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks as a "reunion of political has-beens," and he once referred to Sen. John Kerry as "Ted Kennedy on a South Beach diet.''
He sparked outcries from colleges and universities when he proposed a so-called academic bill of rights that aimed to recruit more conservative professors on campuses to balance liberal views. Kingston insisted it was merely a congressional statement, not a requirement that would trample on tenured faculty, but some in academia said his motives were clear.
Kingston embraced blogs and podcasts early on, calling them "the new talk radio" to spread the GOP's political message.
Kingston was elected in 2002 as vice chairman of the House Republican Conference, a powerful organization that runs the party's day-to-day operations in the chamber. He appeared frequently as a GOP voice on national talk shows and was poised to climb the leadership ladder, but his rise was put on hold in 2006 when he lost a bid to become chairman of the GOP conference, the party's third-ranking position in the House.
His climb up the ranks began in 1997 when he took over a group of GOP lawmakers, dubbed the Theme Team, who faced Democratic counterparts in a series of verbal volleys that transformed the House daily ritual of session-opening one-minute speeches into a loud, partisan and often-humorous morning debate.
The group of about 50 members published its own newsletter and gathered once a week to listen to a speaker, swap ideas and develop strategies.
Kingston said he worked to tone down the rhetoric from the GOP side, encouraging members to focus more on ideas and less on personalities.
Source: Associated Press
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