MONROE, Ga. — Matt Richards said if elected, he’ll use his experience in the demolition business in Congress.

“As a political outsider, committed conservative, self-made businessman and demolition expert, I’m running for Congress to wreck the radical left’s socialist agenda and put America first,” Richards said recently.

So as not to put too fine a point on it, the Bethlehem resident is toting a sledgehammer in his campaign photos as he runs to succeed Rep. Jody Hice in the 10th District. Hice, a Republican who’s served since 2015, is not seeking a fifth term and instead is running for secretary of state next year.

Richards, 37, is a native of Gwinnett County who lived for a time in Between. He noted “sleeping on a cold, dirt floor” at one point in his life to now having “a successful, multimillion-dollar company,” Legacy Demolition in Buford.

“I’ve been blessed to live the American dream,” Richards said. “But that same American dream is under assault by radical Democrats who are hellbent on destroying our country and way of life.

“We need political outsiders, businesspeople and fighters in Washington who can rebuild our economy, safeguard our conservative values, take on the cancel culture, stand up for everyday Georgians and advance (former) President (Donald) Trump’s ‘America First’ agenda.

“At my company, we tear down buildings and clear a path for future growth and opportunities, and in Washington, I’m going to take a sledgehammer to the radical left’s agenda, fight for our conservative values and ‘Make America Great Again.’”

In his campaign announcement, Richards said he spent part of his childhood in poverty and was forced to drop out of high school to work. He worked in the construction business before starting his own company.

An aide said Richards would have his campaign office in Monroe, as Hice did when he successfully ran for the seat first in 2014, and that Richards committed to keeping the congressional field office open. Hice opened the first Walton County field office after he took office in 2015. It’s on Court Street in downtown Monroe.

“Strong constituent services will be one of his top priorities in Washington,” aide Stephen Lawson said.

Richards enters a growing field, including state Rep. Timothy Barr of Lawrenceville, former U.S. Rep. Paul Broun of Athens, Jackson businessman Mike Collins, former state Revenue Commissioner David Curry of McDonough and Monroe businessman Marc McMain.

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