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January 9, 2010

State, local elections coming up this year

State and local elections will be the focus in this year’s election, with the governor’s race rather than the presidency at the top of the ticket.

But Dalton State College political science professor Ken Ellinger says national issues such as the economy and the Democratic Party’s struggle to pass health care reform in Congress may affect state races.

“Georgia, and especially Northwest Georgia, would probably be a struggle for Democrats even if things were going well,” Ellinger said.

Margaret Ball, chairman of the 9th Congressional District Democratic Party Committee, says the national situation will have some impact on local races.

“However, I think it’s going to be up to us locally. In the 9th Congressional District, we need to encourage people to get to know the candidates and to vote, and we need to register new voters,” she said.

Gary Crews, chairman of the Whitfield County Republican Party, says he feels confident that Republicans will continue to do well in local elections.

“We are in very good shape locally, and I think nationally it will swing back to us more,” he said.

Crews said the two big races locally will probably be the governor’s race, because the area’s long-term congressional representative, Nathan Deal, is part of it, and the 9th District House seat.

Term limits bar Republican Gov. Sonny Perdue from running for re-election, and GOP Rep. Nathan Deal of Gainesville, has decided to seek that office rather than run for re-election to the 9th District seat, which includes both Whitfield and Murray counties.

Both offices have attracted a great deal of attention. On the Democratic side, former governor Roy Barnes, attorney general Thurbert Baker, state Rep. Dubose Porter, former secretary of state and labor commissioner David Poythress and educator Carl Camon have announced they will run for governor. On the GOP side, Deal, insurance commissioner John Oxendine, former secretary of state Karen Handel, former state Sen. Eric Johnson, state Rep. Austin Scott and states rights activist Ray McBerry are running.

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