By Matthew S.L. Cate
Georgia’s statewide races took their initial shapes last week as more than three dozen statewide office-seekers put their names on the July 18 primary ballot.
As expected, two crowded fields emerged in the open races for lieutenant governor and secretary of state —; where both incumbents are running for governor.
Also, several Republicans lined up to try to defeat 37-year incumbent Agriculture Commissioner Tommy Irvin.
Incumbent GOP Gov. Sonny Perdue first must defeat Republican opponent Ray “States Rights” McBerry before facing the winner of the Democratic gubernatorial primary.
That race, on which political observers said the Democratic Party is spending most of its election-year hopes and energy, pits two heavy hitters —; Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor and Secretary of State Cathy Cox —; against unknown 78-year-old retiree Mac McCarley.
“If they win the governorship, yeah, they can go away and rejoice,” said University of Georgia political science professor Charles Bullock of the Democrats’ hopes. “Because they’re not going to take back the Senate, and they’re not going to take back the House.”
The qualifying period last week was for local, state and federal office-seekers. Two Northwest Georgia Democrats qualified for the chance to oppose U.S. Rep. Nathan Deal, a Republican.
The Democratic primary race for the 9th Congressional District pits 78-year-old LaFayette resident Bob Longwith against 49-year-old truck driver John Bradbury, of Rising Fawn.
Citing what he called dissatisfaction over national and state-level GOP policies and control, Walker County Democratic Party Chairman Ed Helton said he’s hopeful Democrats will make major inroads this year.
“I wouldn’t rule anything out,” he said. “And I hope Republicans feel like they have a comfortable lead because that’d make me feel good. I think they’re in for a surprise.”
Dr. Bullock said it’s almost certain the Democratic primary elections for secretary of state and lieutenant governor will go to runoff votes. Those races have six and five Democratic hopefuls, respectively.
State Sen. Casey Cagle, R-Chestnut Mountain, is opposing former Christian Coalition leader Ralph Reed in the GOP lieutenant governor primary.
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