Senate Race: Five men seek seat; Qualifying to begin Tuesday, Oct. 11

By JEFF BISHOP Five candidates who say they plan to run for the District 28 state senate seat vacated by Mitch Seabaugh introduced themselves at the local Republican Party breakfast, held at the Golden Corral restaurant. Duke Blackburn described himself as a "fifth generation Coweta County resident" with "very conservative beliefs."
He said he wanted to introduce himself as a man who is not beholden to special interests, but that wouldn't be quite accurate. "My special interest groups would be older people, teachers, and veterans ... and the Christian religion group," he said. "And I love the environment, too." Mostly, he said, "I just want to go up there to represent y'all." He pledged to be accessible, and handed out business cards listing his personal phone number. "I have a strong law enforcement and public safety background," said Blackburn. "I have lived here all my life, and I know the people of this district. I have the same concerns everyone else does." Matt Brass, the youngest of the five candidates, pledged to "stand up" for conservative values. "We got complacent," said Brass, who promised that the people "will have a voice" if he is elected to office. Brass said he grew up in Coweta County and spent time serving in the U.S. Navy. Now he believes that "public service would be a wonderful way to give back to the community." He pledged not to raise taxes, and to "relieve industry from burdensome regulations" so that they could create new jobs. "We need to get back to the way the state once was," he said. Mike Crane said the state of Georgia can't just "look to the federal government to solve our problems for us." The state government is "the next line of defense," he said. Crane said that the state needs a "firm foundation," in the form of solid elected officials like the outgoing Senator Seabaugh. "You need a strong foundation, if you want your house to stand," Crane said. If the federal government should "go into bankruptcy," he said, the state must "stand tall." "You can't put soft timber in that spot," he said. "You can't have squishy so-sos going up there. You have to have strong timber." Crane described himself as a straight shooter. "You don't have to wonder what I'm going to be doing if you send me up there," he said. "I mean what I say, and I say what I mean." He recently ran for office in a district that went "70/30 in favor of Obama," and in doing so, "I gave everything I had," said Crane. "I don't know all the answers, but I will help find them," he said. Crane said his daughter recently registered to vote just so she could have the opportunity to vote for him in the Nov. 8 election. "That's why I'm running," he said. Dale Pepper, chairman of the Coweta County Airport Authority for the past nine years, said he has a proven track record of attracting business to the community. "I helped bring six new businesses here, and 139 new jobs," he said. "That's what I'm about, folks. We need to create jobs in Coweta County. We need to get back to work. And we need to throw out those old molds, those old ways of doing business. That doesn't work, anymore ... I know how to do that." He said Coweta County has been working diligently to "create an atmosphere that is conducive to doing business." Although he's a Missouri native, he has raised his family in Coweta County and considers it his home, he said. "When I came onto the Airport Authority, I saw the need that was there. There was no real plan. So we put a team together. Because nobody does anything by themselves - I don't care what they tell you." Pepper said he will bring those team-building skills to bear in his new job as state senator, if elected to office. Ed Stone, a Senoia attorney and former lawman, said that "free markets lead to free men." It's important to "eliminate income taxes," he said, so that the economy can once again create new jobs. "Government doesn't create jobs, of course," said Stone. He said it's also important to address illegal immigration. "There are half a million illegal aliens in a state with only nine million people," he said, referring to Georgia. "Georgia has more illegal aliens than the state of Arizona." Stone said he is a founder of , a group "of over 6,000 people, and growing," who want to change Georgia gun laws. He thanked Seabaugh for his support of the group's principles. "Senator Seabaugh is a man of principle," he said. "Sometimes he was punished for it." ••• CANDIDATE QUALIFYING STARTS ON TUESDAY Qualifying for candidates seeking the open Georgia State Senate seat vacated by Mitch Seabaugh will be Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at the elections division of the Georgia Secretary of State’s office. The office is located in the Floyd Towers on Martin Luther King Drive, across from the State Capitol in Atlanta. The qualifying fee is $400, and qualifying hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesday, and 8 a.m. to noon on Thursday. Five potential candidates have announced their intentions to run for the open Senate District 28. Duke Blackburn and Dale Pepper made their announcements Thursday, joining Matt Brass and Mike Crane in the non-partisan race for the District 28 seat. Ed Stone introduced himself Saturday at the local Republican Party breakfast as a candidate. The election will be Nov. 8. Unless one of the candidates receives more than 50 percent of the votes, a runoff will be held Dec. 6. Prospective candidates who have questions may contact Coweta Elections Superintendent Jane Scoggins at the Coweta County Administration Building in downtown Newnan at 678-854-0015. Candidates must live in the district, which includes all of Coweta and Heard counties and portions of Troup and Carroll counties. The district will change somewhat because of redistricting, but those changes won’t take effect until Jan. 1, 2013. Whoever is elected to the seat will, however, have to run again next year in order to represent the new district. Seabaugh, who was elected in 2000, resigned his seat last week after being appointed deputy state treasurer by Gov. Nathan Deal.

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