For most of his life, Alvin “AJ” Spitzner was a political observer.
Now he is ready to be involved.
Spitzner, 28, recently announced his candidacy in the 2020 Democratic Primary for the 10th Congressional District race. He hopes to eventually challenge Republican incumbent Jody Hice in November.
Born in Covington, Spitzner said he moved around a good bit as a child, living for many years in Morgan County. He recently became a homeowner in Covington and works as an IT specialist for a manufacturing plant in Butts County. All of the cities he has connections to are part of the 10th District, which includes Barrow County.
“I had watched politics, mainly because my mother had an interest, but have never been involved,” Spitzner said. “I never felt it impacted me day-to-day. Things have changed for me in the last couple of years though. I have a 2-year-old son now and it scares me where our country is headed. When you become a parent, you start paying more attention because you are concerned about your child’s future.”
Part of his inspiration to enter competitive politics has been the campaign of presidential candidate Andrew Yang. Unknown nationally just a few months ago, Yang entered the race without a political background but has built a solid grassroots network of support across the country.
“If I didn’t do this then I have no control over whether things will go right,” Spitzner said. “I am not doing this to be a lifetime politician. If I see a problem I want to fix it or find out how to fix it.”
Officially launching his campaign around Thanksgiving, Spitzner said he has received positive feedback from groups such as the Morgan County NAACP. He said he is “motivated and dedicated” to get through the primary and to challenge Hice in the general election.
Spitzner said he is a believer in equal rights and human rights. As an IT professional, he said one issue which concerns him is the lack of quality internet options for rural Georgians.
“In Sparta, for example, only 7.8 percent of people have a decent internet connection,” he said.
In terms of health care, Spitzner said everyone knows there is a problem but finding solutions that work will be the key.
The candidate spoke of a citizen he knows who was in a car accident and had severe dental damage. That person could not afford to have the necessary dental work performed.
“She went from being healthy to injured and now without teeth,” Spitzner said. “I am one who will look at all opens and then push for the ones we need and that can work. Having a healthcare plan doesn’t help if it doesn’t cover anything.”
Since winning a competitive primary in 2014, including a runoff victory against Jackson’s Mike Collins, Hice has really not been challenged for the 10th District seat. He won the 2014 general election by 33 percent and was completely unopposed in 2016.
Hice had two GOP primary challengers in 2018 but easily won that race with 79 percent of the vote. The general election last year saw Hice win by a 63-37 percent margin.
Spitzner is undeterred, however, and said Hice only represents a portion of the citizens.
“When you look at statements he makes on his Facebook page, there are always numerous responses that disagree with him,” Spitzner said. “When you are only concerned about representing certain people in the district then you lose support quickly. I believe voters are looking for someone who is not in the race for personal gain. I think Jody meant well to begin with but is not effective anymore.”
Currently, Spitzner is one of four announced Democratic candidates looking to challenge Hice in the 2020 general election. Clyde Elrod, an electrician and subcontractor; Andrew Ferguson, a screenwriter and Democratic Party activist; and Tabitha Johnson-Green, a nurse and the 2018 Democratic nominee for the 10th District, have also thrown their hats in the primary ring.
Hice is currently unchallenged in the Republican primary.
The district covers a large area, including the counties of Baldwin, Barrow, Butts (partial), Clarke (partial), Columbia (partial), Glascock, Greene, Gwinnett (partial), Hancock, Henry (partial), Jasper, Jefferson, Johnson, Lincoln, McDuffie, Morgan, Newton (partial), Oconee, Oglethorpe, Putnam, Taliaferro, Walton, Warren, Washington and Wilkes.
The 2020 primary is set for May 19. The filing deadline for candidates is March 6.