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It's time for candidates to officially step forward
Monday marks week of qualifying for many open seats
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More information on upcoming elections

Qualifying for 2010 primaries
Candidate qualifying for the 2010 Democratic and Republican primaries begins today and continues through noon Friday.

Republicans: Qualifying will be at the Sawyer House, 439 Green St. NW, Gainesville.

Democrats: Qualifying will be at the Hall County Elections and Voter Registration office, 2285 Browns Bridge Road, Gainesville.

Election calendar
Today-Friday: Candidate qualifying for state primary
May 11: Special election to fill open seats
June 8:
Special election runoff, if needed
June 21: Last day to register to vote in state primary
July 20: State primary
Aug. 10: State primary runoff, if needed
Sept. 21: Special election to fill vacancies
Oct. 4: Last day to register to vote in general election
Nov. 2: General election
Nov. 30: General election runoff, if needed

Candidates have been running for governor for more than a year, but the campaigns won’t become official until this week when qualifying for July’s Democratic and Republican primaries takes place.

In fact, nearly a dozen statewide races, every seat in the General Assembly, a U.S. Senate seat, all 13 U.S. House seats and scores of local offices will be on the July 20 ballots across the state.

Qualifying begins this morning and runs through noon Friday. Candidates for federal and state offices will qualify at the state Capitol.

Local races qualify at designated offices in each county. In Hall County, Republican candidates will qualify at the Sawyer House at 439 Green St. NW in Gainesville. Democrats qualify at the Hall County Elections and Voter Registration office at 2285 Browns Bridge Road.

This election season promises to be an exciting one. With Gov. Sonny Perdue unable to run again because he’s served the two terms he’s allowed under state law, a large group of Republicans and Democrats have lined up to try and replace him.

In turn, the decision by some candidate to seek the governor’s office has opened up other statewide positions. Of the 13 state and federal offices on the July ballot, six have no incumbent. Five of them are governor, attorney general, agriculture commissioner, insurance commissioner and labor commissioner.

The sixth is the 9th District congressional seat held by Nathan Deal until he retired last month to run full-time for governor. A special election on May 11 will fill Deal’s seat until the end of the year, but when candidates qualify next week for the term that begins in January, there will be an incumbent.

The jockeying for position as candidates seek to move up will leave open seats in the General Assembly as well. Already, Tom Graves and Lee Hawkins quit the legislature to run in the special election to fill Deal’s seat, and voters will vote for someone to fill their unexpired terms on the same day.

It promises to be a confusing year for some voters as they may have to vote as many as six times for some races — the May 11 special election, a possible June 8 runoff, the July 20 primary, a possible Aug. 10 primary runoff, the Nov. 2 general election and, if necessary, a Nov. 30 general election runoff.

In Hall County, voters will choose two members of the county commission — Post 1, now held by Bobby Banks, and Post 3, now held by Steve Gailey, who previously announced he wouldn’t seek a new term.

Voters also will choose three members of the county school board — Post 1, held by Sam Chapman; Post 2, held by Brian Sloan; and an at-large post, held by Richard Higgins.

Also on the Hall County ballot will be the State Court judgeship, now held by Larry Baldwin, and the solicitor’s position, now held by Stephanie Woodard.

U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson is also up for re-election in 2010.