U.S. Rep. Phil Gingrey, R-Marietta, introduced himself to the Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods on March 15, 2012

Take a good look, Buckhead. U.S. Rep. Phil Gingrey, R-Marietta, is vying to be the community’s newest congressman. Assuming he is re-elected, he will represent portions of Buckhead starting in 2013 when new congressional maps take effect.

Gingrey dropped by the Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods Thursday night, March 15, to meet some of his constituents for the first time. He’s got a lot of hands to shake. The new maps mean 45 percent of the residents in Georgia’s 11th Congressional district will be new.

Gingrey faces opposition in the July31 Republican primary; Michael Opitz and Allan Levene.  According to campaign finance reports, Gingrey has $1.8 million cash on hand. No data was  available for his opponents.

His fellow Republicans running for the GOP presidential ticket face a bumpier road.

Front-runner Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, lost conservative strongholds Alabama and Mississippi on March 13 to former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum. Romney also lost Georgia to former U.S. House Speaker and Georgia Rep. Newt Gingrich on March 6.

Gingrey, who supports Gingrich, answered a reporter’s question about why Romney can’t seem to connect with Southern voters.

“I think he has trouble connecting with the common man,” Gingrey said, adding later that he admires the former governor’s business experience. “He can wear blue jeans all day long. He can have an open collar shirt, roll his sleeves up, but … I don’t think he’s quite as friendly as say a Rick Santorum or Newt Gingrich in regard to being able to communicate with the guy on the street … the blue collar people of the country, and I really believe that has hurt him.”

Gingrey predicted a lengthy primary fight wouldn’t hurt the eventual party nominee’s chances.

“I’m not saying that I want this thing to go right to the convention and have a brokered convention. I think that would hurt …,” Gingrey said. “Whoever is the ultimate Republican nominee will be fine.”

More: Watch Gingrey’s take on the 2012 Republican presidential primary.

In 2013, the 11th District will encompass a piece of north Fulton, adding The Westminster Schools, Lovett School, and the Georgia governor’s mansion.

First elected to the U.S. House in 2002, Gingrey is an OB-GYN. He holds a bachelor’s of science degree from the Georgia Institute of Technology and attended the Medical College of Georgia. He says he’s delivered more than 5,200 babies. Gingrey’s and his wife of 41 years, Billie, have four children and 11 grandchildren.

BCN Chairman Jim King said he invited U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Atlanta, to speak to the group but he hasn’t been able to arrange it. Lewis’ district also includes parts of Buckhead.

King said it’s good Buckhead has congressmen from both political parties looking out for the community’s interests.

 

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