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Sea change coming in state politics
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Forsyth County News
The winds of political change will be blowing at gale force through Georgia next year, and depending on their ultimate direction Forsyth County could emerge with some new found clout.

U.S. Rep. Nathan Deal made it official on Friday that he will mount a campaign for governor, tossing his hat into what promises to be a crowded field of Republican candidates for the party’s nomination.

On the heels of Deal’s announcement, Cumming’s Mike Evans announced that he will campaign to replace Deal in Congress in a race that’s expected to draw a large field of challengers as well.

Deal’s decision to vacate his congressional seat means most of Forsyth County is guaranteed to have new representation in Washington after the 2010 elections. With congressional districts slated to be redrawn after next year’s census, there’s the possibility Congressional representation could change again after the time voters go to the polls in 2012.

But Forsyth isn’t the only place where some dramatic changes are about to take place on the political landscape. In addition to the governor’s race, Georgia voters likely will  select more new state constitutional officers than in any election in decades.

Three of the top elected officials in the state — Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine, Secretary of State Karen Handel and Attorney General Thurbert Baker — are leaving office to run for governor, and many expect  Agriculture Commission Tommy Irwin to retire. If those scenarios play out, Georgia voters would have four statewide offices to fill without an incumbent, in addition to the governorship.

The race to replace Deal also is likely to draw a sizable slate of candidates. The 9th Congressional District includes all or part of 15 counties and candidates from a variety of locales is possible.

Much of the district’s population, however, is centered in Hall and Forsyth counties, which should play a major role in deciding who replaces the veteran Deal, who has held the 9th District seat since 1992.

If Deal manages to make it to the governor’s mansion, Forsyth should have a sympathtic ear as the congressman has represented at least a portion of the county for nearly two decades. And it can’t hurt for the county to play a major role in selecting his replacement in Washington.

We’re still a long way from next year’s primaries and general election, and many more candidates are expected to announce campaigns for the elective offices to be filled at the state and national level.

Even so, given the number of offices in which no incumbent will be seeking re-election and the political dominoes tipping and falling with each new announcement, the state is on the verge of major political overhaul.

Given the challenges of the next few years, voters need to pay more attention than ever to the decisions they will be asked to make in 2010. The time to start paying attention is now.