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Some races get crowded as qualifying begins

Candidates must file by Friday

POSTED: April 26, 2010 11:30 p.m.

Three of Hall County’s current representatives in the state House qualified to run for another term Monday.

And by the end of the first day of qualifying for the July 20 party primary, neither Gainesville Republicans Carl Rogers and Doug Collins nor Jefferson Republican Tommy Benton had opponents.

But after only one day of a five-day qualifying period that ends at noon Friday, there was already a good bit of competition for the South Hall post on the Hall County Commission.

The seat is currently held by Republican Bobby Banks.

Banks and two other Republicans, former Flowery Branch City Councilman Craig Lutz and businessman Kimbo Senter, qualified for the post Monday.

A Democrat also qualified for the position, but later withdrew his declaration of candidacy, according to Hall County Interim Elections Director Charlotte Sosebee.

Paul Wayne Godfrey was a real candidate for Hall County Commission District 1 for about six hours, Sosebee said. But Godfrey said that after he qualified as a Democrat, he learned the election would interfere with his job as a math instructor at Lanier Technical College.

Less than an hour after the Flowery Branch resident qualified for the upcoming election, an attorney for the Technical College System of Georgia called Godfrey and told him that his candidacy would be prohibited by the Hatch Act, he said.

The law keeps employees of agencies funded in whole or in part by the federal government from participating in partisan elections.

Since students at Lanier Tech receive federal grants to pay for their educations, Godfrey’s candidacy falls under the guidelines of the Hatch Act, Godfrey said.

“I think it’s pretty unfair but there it is, it’s the Hatch Act,” Godfrey said.

Qualifying week will also determine many other races throughout the state.

In Georgia’s U.S. Senate race, incumbent Republican Johnny Isakson qualified to run for another term. Democrat R.J. Hadley of Conyers also qualified for the post.

Many of the candidates who signed up for the state’s gubernatorial race Monday have been campaigning for nearly a year.

Nathan Deal, Georgia’s former 9th District representative in the U.S. House, officially declared his intention to seek the Republican nomination in Georgia’s governor’s race. So did former state Sen. Eric Johnson of Savannah. Johnson registered his candidacy with the State Ethics Commission in late April 2009, which allowed him to start raising money for his campaign only three days before Deal.

But the race’s newest candidate, Ray Boyd, was barred from running for governor on the GOP line because he wouldn’t sign an oath pledging allegiance to the state party.

Boyd said Monday he plans to gather signatures to run as an independent. He was turned away by Republican Party Chairwoman Sue Everhart at the Capitol after refusing to sign the GOP oath. Boyd said he can’t swear allegiance to the state party because it has strayed from many principles he believes in.

Everhart said party rules demand that he sign the oath as written and accused Boyd of grandstanding.

Boyd said he would need 44,000 valid signatures to get on the ballot as an independent.

DuBose Porter, the minority leader in the state House of Representatives, was the first Democratic gubernatorial candidate to make it official with his party Monday. Porter, of Dublin, has been raising money for his campaign since early last April.

One Republican and one Democrat also qualified for the state’s lieutenant governor’s race. Incumbent Casey Cagle, R-Chestnut Mountain, confirmed that he would run for another term, and Carol Porter, D-Dublin, qualified as a Democratic choice for the seat.

Two seats currently awaiting a May 11 special election are also on the ballot in November.

Political newcomer Butch Miller signed up with the state’s Republican Party to represent Hall County and parts of Jackson County in the state Senate. Miller is also campaigning to fill the vacant Senate District 49 seat for the remainder of the year in the upcoming special election.

The seat was formerly held by Lee Hawkins.

Hawkins resigned from the state Senate last month to qualify in the special election to finish out the rest of the term for a U.S. House seat left vacant by Deal to pursue his bid for governor.

The special election for Deal’s seat also will be held May 11. As with the state Senate seat, the winner of that election will serve in the U.S. House as Georgia’s 9th District representative until the end of the year.

Hawkins and Cumming Republican Bill Stephens — both candidates in the May 11 special election to fill Deal’s vacancy — declared on Monday their candidacy for a full two-year term in the 9th District seat.

State Rep. Bobby Reese, R-Sugar Hill, also qualified for the 9th District seat Monday. Reese is not participating in the special election for the seat because he said he did not want to burden his constituents, who do not live in the 9th District, with the cost of a special election.


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