Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Qualifying Begins Few Candidates Turn out to File Papers on First Day

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Qualifying Begins Few Candidates Turn out to File Papers on First Day

Article excerpt

ATLANTA -- Business was sluggish yesterday as qualifying began for a host of federal, state and local offices that will be up for grabs across Georgia this fall.

Candidates descended upon city halls and county courthouses throughout the state, as well as the Georgia Capitol, to pay the fees and file the paperwork necessary to seek positions from congressman to city councilman.

But the relative lack of activity compared to previous election years could foreshadow a light year for campaigning. Political observers are predicting that when the deadline for qualifying falls at noon Friday, many seats will remain uncontested.

For example, by the end of yesterday, only 14 of the 56 state Senate districts had drawn more than one candidate.

Many would-be challengers for the General Assembly are likely to wait until two years from now, after state House and Senate district lines have been redrawn to reflect results of this year's census, said Charles Bullock, a political science professor at the University of Georgia.

There's little motivation to run now to represent a district that could be drastically altered by the elections of 2002, Bullock said

"Even if you win, as a junior member you know they'll be moving the lines, and you'll most likely be affected," he said.

At the same time, the census also is expected to prompt some of the General Assembly's veteran politicians to run for another term, so they'll be around to play a part in next year's redistricting. Democratic leaders have urged House Speaker Tom Murphy, D-Bremen, to stay around long enough to wield his powerful influence to his party's political advantage.

At the federal level, Republican U.S. Reps. John Linder, Johnny Isakson and Bob Barr were among the early birds qualifying yesterday to run for re-election.

Linder is seeking a fifth two-year term representing the Northeast Georgia district that includes Athens. Barr, elected with the huge Republican class of 1994, will be seeking a fourth term. …

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