Jeff Emanuel

Norwood was a rock-solid conservative on many issues, from taxation (he was a “FairTax,” or national income tax, supporter) to immigration. The author of a provision in the 2005 Deficit Reduction Act which required that Medicaid recipients verify US citizenship, he also supported a security fence along the US’s southern border, supported fines on businesses which employed illegal aliens, and opposed any form of amnesty for undocumented immigrants. He was staunchly pro-life, and supported school vouchers as a means of “returning decision-making to families” – something at the heart of the core conservative pro-choice and pro-personal-responsibility philosophy.

Though his views on many of these issues put him in direct opposition to most core Democrat issues and principles, the overall sentiment toward the late Congressman has largely been both warm and respectful from both sides of the aisle. Both Republican and Democratic commenters on Georgia political blog “Peach Pundit” have attested to the fact that, regardless of political affiliation, there was never any doubt that Dr. Norwood “put the interests of his constituents, his state, and his country first,” and professed admiration for a “good and honorable man who dedicated his life to public service and to serving his constituents to the best of his ability.”

Norwood’s popularity in his congressional district was inarguable. Despite redistricting in 1996 and 2002, he never received less than 52.3% of the vote (in 1996), and received over 60% of the vote five times, including twice over seventy percent. His reelection in 2006, unfortunately was his last.

With Norwood’s passing, Governor Perdue will be required, by the end of next week, to submit to Secretary of State Karen Handel a proposed date, at least thirty days away, for a special election. There are countless names being mentioned as potential candidates for that seat, although all but one have been smart enough not to announce their candidacy yet, instead opting to wait out of respect for Dr. Norwood and his family.

The show, as they say, will go on in the 10th Congressional District, and in the US House of Representatives. However, it will be a bit less warm and a bit less colorful for the loss of this great man. Conservatives this week lost an icon and a champion of their cause and their values; more importantly, though, the Norwoods lost a beloved family member, and many, many more around Georgia and around the country lost a dear, dear friend.

Rest in Peace, Congressman. For those who knew you, it was an honor; for those who didn’t, it was an opportunity missed to know a great man; and for those whose lives you touched through your endless dedication to public service – which was all of us, regardless of ideology or affiliation – it was an experience for which we wouldn’t trade anything in the world.

Jeff Emanuel

Jeff Emanuel, a Special Operations military veteran, is a Leadership fellow with the Center for International Trade and Security at the University of Georgia, where he also studies Classics. In addition, he is a contributing editor for conservative web log, and is a columnist for the Athens, GA Banner-Herald newspaper.

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