Local qualifying has begun, and the Oconee Enterprise has the most comprehensive list of local qualifiers I have seen at its new website, and Adam Thompson at the Athens Banner-Herald has an overview of the qualifiers and an interview with chair candidate Sarah Bell here. Some interesting names out there and still some open slots, apparently (don't expect those will remain much longer).
The big news locally has been the number of yard signs popping up for Tommy Malcom, who grew up down the road from me in Northwest Woods. Tommy's surprise decision to challenge incumbent Republican Bill Cowsert in the July primary turned some heads.
Tommy Malcom is a fine man and someone I have known a long time. I applaud him for his service on the school board. We need more young people seeking elected positions, and Tommy is one of the youngest I can remember to get engaged politically (he was elected to the school board at age 22 or 23). I have no doubt Tommy will have future opportunities to serve, and applaud him for his willingness to go after a higher position.
But Bill's legal expertise and the high regard held for him by his colleagues make it clear he will be a leader in the Senate sooner rather than later -- if we keep him in Atlanta. Last night I attended Bill's campaign kick off at the Oconee County Civic Center (good recap here from Blake Aued). In attendance were Senate Majority Leader Tommy Williams, Lt. Governor Casey Cagle, Secretary of State Karen Handel and Senate Majority Caucus Chair Dan Moody. As you'd expect, these folks spoke glowingly of Bill.
By almost all accounts, Bill has served the area ably, taking leadership positions on the state water plan and a number of other fronts. He has not been afraid to vote against bills favored by his party when he sees a problem with them. He also has a seat on the appropriations committee, which is very beneficial for our area.
Our region needs to take care of state and federal legislative leaders with strong potential and give them the time it takes to earn leadership positions. It is also healthy to have an attorney in Atlanta who understands the Georgia Code and the unintended consequences of laws that are proposed. The best thing for this area is to send Bill back to Atlanta for another four years. What do you think?