A Macon businessman and former Trump administration official running for the U.S. Senate told the Reporter last week that he’s suspending his campaign to endorse Congressman Doug Collins.
Dr. Wayne Johnson of Macon said with polls giving three candidates, Republicans Kelly Loeffler, Collins and Democrat Rev. Raphael Warnock, the best chance to win, he’s doing what he can to ensure the seat stays in GOP hands.
“The responsible thing to do is to remove myself from the field and support an electable candidate,” said Johnson. “Being in the race I have gotten to know the candidates well and Doug is far and away the most qualified with his experience and temperament. He’s a devoted father and veteran from a hard-working middle class family. I’ve met him in D.C. and I know he’s a first-rate public servant.”
A Macon native, Johnson went to Mercer on an ROTC scholarship, spent four years in the Army and then had a successful career building and selling businesses, creating some 10,000 jobs over the past 40 years. Currently, he and his business partner own senior living centers in Macon, Milledgeville and Monroe, including The Gables in Macon.
In recent years he had taken an interest in higher education financing and earned a doctorate in the subject in 2016. As the Trump administration staffed up following his surprise win, education secretary Betsy Devos hired Johnson to oversee the sprawling $2 trillion college loan program. What he learned horrified him. Johnson said college debt is strangling American families by saddling them with debt for a degree that fails to give them the income they need to be repaid.
“It’s an abomination hiding in plain sight,” said Johnson. “There are untold horror stories. It’s causing people not to get married and a depression in the birthrate.”
So when Sen. Johnny Isakson resigned last year and Kemp asked for applications for his replacement, Johnson resigned from his job at the Department of Education and sent in his resume. Johnson said he learned in Washington that the only way to change the fiasco of college debt was to become an expert in the issue and win a seat in Congress.
Johnson said he had funded his own campaign pouring $150,000 into it, largely to spread the word about the calamity of college debt. He said it’s not just affected young people because many grandparents are co-signing college loans for their kids and wind up being saddled with the debt.
Johnson said he wants people to realize if they can get out of school debt-free, it gives them a running start in wealth creation.
Alas, Johnson couldn’t compete with the high profile campaigns of Collins, the congressman who often appeared on Fox News, and Loeffler, the incumbent appointed by Kemp.
He noted that Loeffler, whose husband owns the New York Stock Exchange, is outspending Collins 50 to 1 and plans to spend $20 million in the race. But he notes that whoever wins will only serve the final two years of Isakson’s term, perhaps giving him another shot in 2022.
To learn more about Wayne Johnson, go to his website at www.johnsonsenate.com.