Lee Hawkins, a former state senator from Gainesville, announced today that he plans to run for the state House seat currently held by Doug Collins.
Collins announced Thursday that he would seek election to Georgia’s new congressional seat, a district anchored in Hall County.
Hawkins left his post in the Georgia Senate in 2010 to run for the 9th District U.S. House seat left vacant by Nathan Deal when he resigned to run for governor.
After losing to now U.S. Rep. Tom Graves, R-Ranger, Hawkins said Friday he’s back for more politics.
If he’s elected to the state House, Hawkins said he wants the same committee assignments he had on the other side of the hall in the state Capitol because he feels those are the ones that have the greatest impact on Hall County.
In the state Senate, Hawkins served on the chamber’s committees on health and human services, agriculture and natural resources.
“I tell you what,” Hawkins said in a telephone interview Friday, “when I’m working on legislation or if I’m just helping folks, I wake up every morning and it’s a great day.”
Hawkins came in second place to Graves four times in his bid for the U.S. House last year.
Deal’s early departure from Congress created the need for a special election, which ended in a runoff.
Graves won the chance to finish out the final year of Deal’s term, which ended December 2010.
But in July’s Republican primary, the two men faced off again in a runoff, with Graves securing the full term to represent the district that currently stretches west from Hall County to Dade County in the northwest corner of the state.
New census data created a 14th U.S. House district in the state, and maps approved by the legislature earlier this week anchored the open seat in Hall County, pushing Graves’ district to the northwest.
As Collins seeks that seat, Hawkins is seeking to represent a newly drawn state House district in North Hall. If the new map receives no changes by the U.S. Department of Justice or lawmakers in the coming months, the district would cover much of North Hall, the southern portion of White County and the northeast corner of Forsyth County.
Republican leaders in the state Capitol have just completed a special legislative session to redraw the state’s political boundaries, but facing pressure from Gov. Nathan Deal, whose home is in Hall County, they have promised changes to the state House districts with regard to Hall County in the regular legislative session that begins in January.
Even though his district is subject to change slightly, Hawkins said it isn’t too soon to begin campaigning.
Hawkins said he learned his lesson about the timing of a campaign announcement in his failed bid for Congress.
He announced his candidacy for Deal’s old congressional seat in July of 2009, more than two months after Deal announced he was running for governor.
Other candidates in the race, including Graves, had already been on the campaign trail and raising money since May.
“I learned last time, that if you get in late, it’s a lot harder to climb uphill,” Hawkins said.