Former Georgia Senate Majority Leader Bill Stephens has dropped out of the 9th Congressional District primary on July 20.
Mr. Stephens, an eight-year veteran of the state Senate and communications director for former Gov. Zell Miller, said Tuesday he would not seek the congressional seat or any other public office in the foreseeable future. The 53-year-old Cumming resident received slightly more than 2,000 votes, or 4 percent, in last week's special election for the remainder of the 9th District term.
"I just think that other people are better positioned at the moment to serve in Congress," Mr. Stephens said. "The results were not what we had hoped. That's the reality of it."
He said he's looking forward to "being a human being again" and would not endorse anyone in the special-election runoff set for June 8.
"While these guys are out campaigning, I'm just going to be enjoying time with the kids," he said.
Mr. Stephens' decision, coupled with Bert Loftman's announcement last week that he was dropping out, narrows the field of Republicans to five. There are no Democrats or third-party candidates on the ballot.
Qualified and running for 9th Congressional District:
* Chris Cates, Blairsville, cardiologist
* Tom Graves, Ranger, small-business owner
* Lee Hawkins, Gainesville, dentist
* Bobby Reese, Flowery Branch, real estate broker
* Steve Tarvin, Chickamauga, textile executive
Qualified but dropped out:
* Bert Loftman, Jasper, neurosurgeon
* Bill Stephens, Cumming, businessman
Source: Georgia Secretary of State, candidates' campaigns
"There's not, and I'm sorry to report that," said Margaret Ball, 9th District chairwoman for the Democratic Party of Georgia. Whoever wins primary automatically will win the congressional seat, she said.
Bobby Reese, the newcomer to the race, said he started thinking about running last May and decided in September to dive into the race. He said he has a "burning calling" to serve in Congress, but decided not to get into the special election because he wanted to fulfill the rest of his term as a state representative and didn't want to force a costly special election in his district.
"It was a tough job this year, but I felt like my constituents elected me to do a job," he said. "I guess I'm just old-fashioned and corny."
He said his main issues are immigration and federal spending and that voters can expect to hear plenty about his stance and experience in the U.S. Army and the Georgia General Assembly.
Fellow candidates Tom Graves, a former state representative, and Lee Hawkins, a former state senator, also have touted their legislative experience. Steve Tarvin and Chris Cates have campaigned on being political outsiders who will bring business sense to Washington.
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