'Against all odds': Colton Moore running against Jeff Mullis for Georgia Senate seat

Staff photo by Doug Strickland / Georgia State House District 1 candidate Colton Moore talks with people before a debate at Dade County Public Library on Thursday, April 19, 2018, in Trenton, Ga. Multiple candidates across several races were in attendance for the forum, which precedes the May 22 primary election.

Georgia state Rep. Colton Moore, R-Trenton, told the Times Free Press in a phone call Friday morning that he is running against Sen. Jeff Mullis, R-Chickamauga, for the Senate seat in District 53.

"I'm going up against the political boss of Northwest Georgia," Moore said. "Against all odds."

Moore made his first surprising announcement of the week on Monday when he said he wouldn't be running for re-election for his District 1 House seat. On Friday morning he qualified to run for the seat in District 53.

Mullis, who has held his seat for two decades, is chairman of the powerful Senate Rules Committee, one of the more seasoned senators in Atlanta and is known as an important ally for lawmakers on both sides of the aisle when something needs to get done.

Moore said Friday he hasn't felt supported by Mullis and has disagreed with the veteran lawmaker on several occasions since being elected in 2018. Moore said Mullis didn't endorse him in 2018 and he felt as though Mullis has tried to "push me out of my seat."

"For me to have an opportunity to represent the people of District 1 and go down to advocate to the best of my ability, only to have that roadblocked time and time again, it seems like the only right thing to do," Moore said. "We have this powerful chairman with all the influence, but if you disagree with him, you don't have any influence."

Mullis could not be reached Friday for comment.

Carried by his hometown, the then-24-year-old Moore joined the Georgia Legislature after he beat incumbent state Rep. John Deffenbaugh, R-Lookout Mountain, 2,184 votes to 1,858 in the state House District 1 Republican primary in May 2018.

Moore, an auctioneer, was born and raised on Lookout Mountain. He made a name for himself as a young up-and-comer hungry to make changes in the Legislature, and was one of a handful of lawmakers who called for House Speaker David Ralston's resignation after allegations that Ralston continually used his work as a lawmaker to push back trial dates, sometimes in cases involving allegations of violent crimes.

Moore mentioned his school tax bill that he believed was killed by Mullis and a local water authority bill were two examples of roadblocks he's faced. At the time Mullis denied having a heavy influence on the school tax bill.

Moore knows he'll have an uphill battle. He said his last financial statements showed he had about $26 in his campaign fund, while Mullis has over $250,000 at his disposal as of Jan. 31.

"That's money and influence from Atlanta," Moore said. "Not influence from our district. Hopefully people can see that."

In September 2019, Deffenbaugh announced he was running again for the District 1 seat he held from 2013 to 2018. That district includes Dade and Walker counties.

Moore will run against Mullis and Todd Noblitt, a 49-year-old insurance agent in Fort Oglethorpe and political newcomer.

The 53rd District includes Catoosa, Dade and Walker counties and portions of Chattooga County. Mullis was first elected to the Senate in 2000 and has had only two GOP challengers in the primary since then. The last was in 2016 when former Trion, Georgia, mayor Lanny Thomas ran against him.

Mullis ran unopposed in 2018.

Contact Patrick Filbin at pfilbin@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6476. Follow him on Twitter @PatrickFilbin.