Georgia state Sen. Jeff Mullis will not run for Tom Graves' U.S. House seat

Staff photo by C.B. Schmelter / State Sen. Jeff Mullis speaks before a bill signing ceremony at Gordon Lee High School on Friday, April 26, 2019 in Chickamauga, Ga.

Georgia state Sen. Jeff Mullis, R-Chickamauga, announced Tuesday morning that he will not run for the state's 14th Congressional District but instead will run for re-election for the current seat he holds in the Georgia Senate.

"I would like to thank all of you that have reached out and encouraged me to run for the open 14th Congressional District seat. The outpouring of support has been overwhelming and greatly appreciated. However, it is time to put to rest all further speculation," reads a statement from Mullis. "As I have reflected on my current place in life and discussed my future plans with my family, we have decided the State Senate is the place in which I can best serve the constituents that have placed their trust in me."

In announcing that he will not run for the U.S. House seat, Mullis said he will run for re-election in the May primary.

Mullis represents the 53rd Senate District, which includes Catoosa, Dade and Walker counties and portions of Chattooga County. He was first elected to the Senate in 2000 and was appointed chairman of the powerful Senate Rules Committee in January 2013.

Since 2000, Mullis has only had two GOP challengers in the primary. The last was in 2016 when former mayor of Trion, Georgia, Lanny Thomas ran against Mullis.

Mullis ran unopposed in 2018.

Congressman Tom Graves, of Ranger, the senior-most Republican in Georgia's House delegation, said earlier this month he will not stand for re-election next year, triggering an unexpected battle to represent the deeply conservative district.

Graves made his surprising announcement the day after Gov. Brian Kemp appointed financial executive Kelly Loeffler for an open Senate seat, triggering speculation that he may challenge her.

A real estate investor who grew up outside Cartersville, Georgia, Graves was elected to the Georgia House at age 32, but quickly fell out of line with powerful Republican leaders.

He created the 216 Policy Group of independent conservatives that often infuriated House Speaker Glenn Richardson and his top allies, and then eventually aligned himself with the then-fledgling tea party movement.

Long seen as a potential statewide candidate, Graves surprised insiders by not submitting his application for the open Senate seat that was filled Wednesday by Loeffler's appointment.

Now, Graves is the second Georgia Republican to announce he won't seek another term in the House after U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall. Woodall narrowly won re-election in his swing district in 2018.

District 1 Rep. Colton Moore, R-Trenton, told the Times Free Press last week that he is strongly considering running for Georgia's 14th Congressional House seat in 2020.

Todd Noblitt, a lifelong North Georgia resident, has announced he will run against Mullis in the 53rd District in the Republican primary.

The deadline to file is March 6, 2020.

Contact Patrick Filbin at or 423-757-6476.