Retiring state Sen. George Hooks, D-Americus, the dean and unofficial historian of the chamber, has long sat on the biggest campaign bankroll among Senate Democrats.
He’s seldom had opposition, but unlike other lawmakers, Hooks has never been big on spreading his wealth to colleagues seeking re-election. He always said donors gave the money to him, not to the other candidates looking for him to shift his largesse to them.
My AJC colleague James Salzer noticed that Hooks’ July 1 campaign disclosure shows he’s finally starting to give away his $340,000 warchest, and he’s doing it in a bipartisan manner.
Hooks gave $5,000 to Republican Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and $5,000 to the Georgia Democratic Party. He also contributed $1,500 to five legislative colleagues: three Democrats and Republicans Cecil Staton of Macon and Johnny Grant of Milledgeville. Grant was defeated on Tuesday. Staton survived — just barely.
Hooks’ biggest donation – $225,000 – went to Historic Woodfin Inc., a non-profit he heads in Americus. The organization is intended to finance historic preservation projects that no longer are eligible for state funding. It’s to fill a niche that we’ve lost through budget cuts,” Hooks said. “Woodfin” is the middle name of Henry W. Grady, editor of the Atlanta Constitution and author of the 19th century concept of “the New South.”
Hooks’ penchant for historic preservation has Republicans breathing easier. Some feared the bulk of the Hooks reserve might find its way into the Democratic fight to preserve the career of state Sen. Doug Stoner of Smyrna, whose district has been shifted into heavily Republican Buckhead.
Hooks ended June with $42,000 left in his campaign account, which is more than many if not most incumbent Democratic senators.
- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider