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Candidate making headway
St. Simons Island businessman John McCallum may have been the last person to announce his candidacy for the Republican nomination for an open 1st Congressional District seat, but he says he's making up financial ground fast.

McCallum, who entered the race in November, raised more than $363,000 in the last quarter -- more than any of the five candidates seeking the Republican nomination to replace U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston, who is seeking the party's nomination for the U.S. Senate.

McCallum is trailing only state Sen. Earl "Buddy" Carter, R-Savannah, in the total amount of money on hand for the race. Carter's most recent financial disclosure shows he has more than $558,000 in campaign donations.

McCallum said he believes he will continue to close the monetary gap as the campaign continues.

"We definitely feel good with the cash on hand," he said. "I'm very confident."

State Rep. Jeff Chapman, R-Brunswick, another candidate for the Republican nomination for the congressional seat, has about $133,000 in campaign donations; Bob Johnson has about $287,000, and Darwin Carter has about $106,000, according to the most recent federal campaign disclosure filings.

McCallum said his number of campaign donations in such a short time period indicate people are ready to support someone who would be considered by most to be a political outsider.

McCallum, who was a Republican nominee for Georgia Secretary of State in 1998, has never held public office, but he has experience that makes him familiar with Washington politics. He served as an intern for then U.S. Rep. Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., and later as a paid staff member when the congressman rose to House speaker.

McCallum said he believes he has the momentum and he actually believes he is the front-runner in the race to win the Republican nomination in the May primary.

"It's the other guys who need to catch up," he said. "We've gone from getting into the race to second in cash-in-hand in eight weeks."

McCallum said he has no plans to be a career politician if he wins the nomination and the general election in November. He said he has promised in campaign speeches to serve no more than three terms in office.

"I think people are tired of politics as usual," he said. "I think people are ready for bold, new ideas."

* Reporter Gordon Jackson writes about Camden County and other local topics. Contact him at, on Facebook or at 464-7655.

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