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5 qualify Monday for seat in U.S. House

2 qualify for open Georgia Senate post

POSTED: March 29, 2010 11:57 p.m.

Five candidates qualified Monday to run in the special election to fill the remainder of Nathan Deal’s term in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Chris Cates, Tom Graves, Lee Hawkins, Bert Loftman and Bill Stephens — all Republicans — are now ready to run for the 9th District congressional seat.

The winner of the May 11 special election will serve in Washington from the date the election is certified until the end of Deal’s term in December.

Deal resigned last week after the health care vote to focus on his bid for governor.

Tim Baker, a spokesman for Graves, said the Graves campaign is looking forward to the upcoming election.

“This is a great opportunity and Tom’s excited about it,” Baker said. “We’ve been working hard. We’ve already knocked on over 1,000 doors, we’ve got a grass-roots organization and we’re ready. We’re looking forward to talking about the issues.”

Hawkins said Deal’s resignation put everything on a fast track. In order to qualify for the special election, Graves resigned his seat in the Georgia House of Representatives and Hawkins resigned his position in the state Senate.

“I’m very excited about the race, as I have been,” Hawkins said.

Loftman said he hopes qualifying for the race will prove that seasoned politicians aren’t the only ones that have a chance of winning a seat in Congress.

“It is a big step,” Loftman said. “In some ways I’m excited because I think that it will put the focus upon this election in the national spotlight. If someone like myself who’s an outsider who has a different idea about how to cut to a smaller government wins or gets to the runoff, it’ll be a real interesting thing that someone like me could come in and beat the career politicians that are in the race.”

Stephens said he went to Atlanta with his family to qualify at the secretary of state’s office.

“I’ve said I want to take two things to Washington they really, really need,” Stephens said. “The first is common sense and the second is some adult supervision, and that’s what I intend to do.”

Cates could not be reached Monday by The Times.

Jimmy Norman, a Republican from Flowery Branch, and Brandon Givens, a Libertarian from Gainesville, qualified to run for Senate District 49, the seat held by Hawkins since 2006.

Givens said he is the only Libertarian that plans to run for the Senate seat in the special election.

“What I want to bring to the forefront of the debate is reasonableness,” said Givens, who is a teacher. “I believe the state Capitol needs more teachers there that can provide proper guidance.”

Norman did not return phone calls Monday from The Times.


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