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Staff photo by Doug Strickland / A number of candidates are running to replace Rep. Tom Graves, seen at right talking to a constituent at the Northwest Georgia Trade and Convention Center on Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2016, in Dalton, Ga.

Georgia's 14th Congressional District, a historically conservative pocket of the state, is up for grabs in November.

In December, Republican Rep. Tom Graves surprised the state and many in his own party when he announced he would not run for re-election. Graves will leave office as the senior-most Republican in Georgia's House delegation.

With Graves out, that makes room for a new member to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives.

All of the candidates in the race on the Republican ticket align with each other on most, if not all, issues. They support President Donald Trump, oppose abortion and have said they will fight for the Second Amendment.

Nine candidates have qualified to fill his spot. With so many candidates and no clear front runner, the June 9 balloting is expected to lead to an August 11 runoff election to pick a Republican nominee.

The winner will face Democrat Kevin Van Ausdal in November.

Georgia's 14th Congressional District includes Catoosa, Chattooga, Dade, Floyd, Gordon, Haralson, Murray, Paulding, Polk, Walker, Whitfield and parts of Pickens counties.

Here are the candidates for the 14th District:

Kevin Van Ausdal

— Facing an uphill battle as the field's only Democrat, Ausdal is originally from Indiana and has lived in Northwest Georgia since 2012. He works in the financial technology industry in Catoosa County. Ausdal supports raising the minimum wage, universal background checks for gun purchases and creating a single-payer, national health insurance program.

— Financial contributions: $7,400

 

John Barge, former state schools superintendent

— Barge lives in Floyd County and was the Georgia schools superintendent from 2011 to 2014. He ran unsuccessfully for governor in 2014, losing in the primary to incumbent Nathan Deal. Barge's campaign materials say he stood "up to the liberal education unions and defended his faith in the public square" and said he will "work alongside President Trump to drain the liberal swamp."

— Financial contributions: $174,700

 

Ben Bullock, retired Air Force veteran

— Bullock is a veteran of the Air Force and later served at the Pentagon. Bullock dropped out of the crowded race for the state's 7th Congressional District and instead announced his candidacy for the 14th in January. Bullock lives in Gwinnett County but has said he has roots in Paulding County, where his campaign is based.

— Financial contributions: $345,200

 

Kevin Cooke, District 18 House Representative

— Cooke now serves in the state's House of Representatives in District 18. He is the associate athletic director at Shorter University in Rome as well as being a farmer and small businessman. Cooke was first elected to office in 2010 and serves on multiple committees including Agriculture and Consumer Affairs, Appropriations, Legislative and Congressional Reapportionment and Public Safety and Homeland Security, among others.

— Financial contributions: $98,600

 

John Cowan, neurosurgeon

— Cowan is a neurosurgeon and CEO of Rome-based Cortex Toys. Cowan has used his medical expertise on the campaign trail during the coronavirus pandemic. Cowan has never held public office before and has been criticized during video conference debates about manufacturing his toys in China. Cowan said he stands with President Trump to end illegal immigration and wants to help "finish the wall."

— Financial contributions: $521,600

 

Clayton Fuller, special prosecutor

— Fuller is a prosecutor in Georgia's Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit and is serving in Alabama for the Air National Guard to fight the coronavirus outbreak. In 2018 he was appointed by President Donald Trump as a White House Fellow and worked alongside Vice President Mike Pence and assisted Karen Pence's campaign to "elevate, encourage, and thank" military spouses in the U.S.

— Financial contributions: $218,400

 

Marjorie Taylor Greene, CEO of construction company

— Greene was the first person to announce her candidacy for the 14th District, and it wasn't the first time she had announced her intentions toward a U.S. House seat this election season. Greene had originally announced her bid for the 6th Congressional seat but switched to the 14th. She's running on the slogan, "Save America, Stop Socialism." U.S. Congressman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, has endorsed Greene.

— Financial contributions: $1,077,100

 

Andy Gunther, U.S. HUD inspector and Army veteran

— Gunther is a member and the current vice chair of the Haralson County Republican Party. He previously served on the Rules Committee and as sergeant-at arms during district conventions. He is a former Airborne instructor, Army Ranger and was an R.O.T.C. instructor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Gunther lives in Bremen, Georgia. Gunther said that as a staunch constitutional conservative, he believes that America was founded on "Christian principles and that the separation of church and state is a lie."

— Financial contributions: $10,300

 

Bill Hembree, former state representative

— Hembree served in the House of Representatives from 1992 to 2011. He served as Chairman of the House Industrial Relations Committee, Higher Education Committee and Rules Committee during his tenure. Hembree ran for Speaker of the House in 2008 but lost. He's an advocate for lower taxes and a balanced budget.

— Financial contributions: $253,400

 

Matt Laughridge, businessman

— Laughridge is running for office for the first time. He is a proponent of American manufacturing and job creation, saying that he has built hotels, like Trump. In his campaign, Laughridge said "working Georgians have been abandoned by the political ruling class from both parties (outside of President Trump) for too long."

— Financial contributions: $319,100

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

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