Former state Senate majority leader Bill Stephens shook off a three-year hiatus from politics this morning to announce himself as a candidate to replace U.S. Rep. Nathan Deal.
The Fannin County native becomes the third Republican to announce for the 9th District seat. Mike Evans, the former state transportation chairman, and Tom Graves, the state lawmaker, are already in the race.
Stephens once served as Gov. Zell Miller’s press secretary, and is tapping that same base for his finance committee. Businessman Virgil Williams will head it up. Miller and his wife Shirley are also part of Stephens’ core support.
“North Georgia deserves a member of Congress who knows them, will represent their interests and knows how to take on the power structure–and win”, said Stephens, a banker, in his press release.
Stephens was elected to the state Senate in 1998, but lost the GOP primary for secretary of state to Karen Handel, who is now running for governor.
According to May 2009 stats, the 9th District has the least diverse voting population in Georgia: 91 percent white, 3 percent black, and 2.6 percent Hispanic.
This was Mike Huckabee’s best district in the 2008 presidential primary, according to one number-cruncher we know. Huckabee, who won the state, took 41 percent. John McCain and Mitt Romney won 28 and 27 percent of the vote, respectively.
— The Georgia Conservancy Board of Trustees announced Tuesday that former lieutenant governor Pierre Howard would serve permanently as the environmental group’s president. Howard had been the interim top dog. President Jim Stokes left the spot in January.
Perhaps because Howard, as a former constitutional officer, might find it a tad awkward working the ropes at the State Capitol, Georgia Conservancy also said that Allison Wall, director of Georgia Watch and veteran lobbyist would also be part of the group’s top leadership.
— U.S. Rep. John Barrow (D-Savannah) is taking some heat for a committee vote against the Democratic climate- change measure that would create a cap-and-trade system to control greenhouse-gas emissions.
An unusual coalition of Democratic interest groups — the League of Conservation Voters and VoteVets — have put out the ad below aimed at changing Barrow’s mind. Similar versions are being run against Democratic blue dog Mike Ross of Arkansas and Republican Roy Blunt of Missouri.
While you ponder the above, consider these items found while perusing this morning’s ajc.com:
Fayette County commissioner arrested for marijuana possession. The state budget meltdown delays a refill of the World of Coke museum. A possible break-in at home of Atlanta City Council President — and mayoral candidate — Lisa Borders. A new Georgia Tech research center aimed at quicker healing for soldiers. Clayton County approves another school superintendent contract, this one for $250,000 a year. A decision is coming on whether MARTA gets $25 million in federal stimulus. Good news: metro Atlanta homes decline in value at a slower pace than before. A first entry in U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson’s Africa diary.
From elsewhere in Georgia:
InsiderAdvantage: Vance Smith rated likely to be next DOT commissioner. SMN: Tom Barton on Nathan Deal’s bid to go native.
NYT: North Korea threatens military strikes on South Korea. WP: Illinois senator offered to write check to governor before appointment. WP: Republicans face a delicate task in opposing the first Latina nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court. WSJ: Despite Democratic bent, Sotomayor has sided with corporate defendants, and the high court’s 5-4 split is likely to remain.
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