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Field set as qualifying closes in state
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Forsyth County News
Contested races of local interest

U.S. Representative, District 7

• Clay Cox, 41, of Lilburn; CEO
• Chuck Efstration, 27, of Dacula; prosecutor
• Jef Fincher, 56, of Duluth; real estate consultant/flight attendant
• Ronnie Grist, 49, of Lawrenceville; retired
• Jody Hice, 50, of Bethlehem; minister
• Tom Kirby, 49, of Loganville; human resource safety
• Tom Parrott, 59, of Norcross; CPA
• Rob Woodall, 40, of Lawrenceville; chief of staff
• Doug Heckman, 50, of Norcross; marketing executive

U.S. Representative, District 9

• Chris Cates, 53, of Blairsville; cardiologist
• Tom Graves, 40, of Ranger; small business owner
• Lee Hawkins, 59, of Gainesville; dentist
• Bert Loftman, 68, of Jasper; retired neurosurgeon
• Bobby Reese, 55, of Flowery Branch; real estate broker
• Bill Stephens, 53, of Cumming; businessman
• Steve Tarvin, 58, of Chickamauga, textile executive

Commissioner of Insurance

• Dennis Cain, 56, of Hazlehurst; insurance agent
• Rick Collum, 40, of Moultrie; attorney
• Seth Harp, 67, of Midland; attorney
• Ralph T. Hudgens, 67, of Hull; investor
• Tom Knox, 66, of Cumming; attorney
• John Mamalakis, 61, of Savannah; insurance agent and administrator
• Stephen Dale Northington, 40, of Acworth; insurance agent
• Gerry Purcell, 48, of Alpharetta; businessman
• Maria Sheffield, 35, of Atlanta; attorney
• Mary Squires, 52, of Atlanta; consultant
Two new faces will represent Forsyth County in the state legislature in 2011.

Republican Tom Knox is leaving his District 24 House seat to run for state office, while District 51 state Sen. Chip Pearson announced Friday he will not seek re-election, despite qualifying.

Forsyth’s other three state legislators did not draw opposition.

Republican Reps. Mark Hamilton, District 23, and Amos Amerson, District 9, as well as District 27 state Sen. Jack Murphy will run unopposed.

The week of qualifying for the July 20 primary ended at noon Friday.

Three Republicans — Mike Dudgeon, Anna McManus and Douglas Wright — are vying for Knox’s post.

Dudgeon is a chief technology officer and current member of the Forsyth County Board of Education.

McManus, an insurance agent/consultant, has served the Forsyth County Republican Party for more than two decades, while Wright is a stay-at-home dad.

Pearson, a Republican from Dawsonville, said in a statement that it had been an “honor to serve the 51st District,” which includes some of Forsyth County.

“At this time, my time needs to be spent with my family,” he said.

His seat will be filled by either Republican Steve Gooch, a Dahlonega businessman, or Democrat Joseph Mann of Mineral Bluff.

The 43-year-old Gooch, who could not be reached for comment, ran unsuccessfully against District 9 state Rep. Amos Amerson of Dahlonega in 2008.

Gooch is a former Lumpkin County commission chairman who currently serves on the state’s Department of Transportation Board.

Mann, 32, is a businessman and former chairman of Fannin County Democratic Party.

Having finished the legislative session Thursday, Knox is in full campaign mode.

The Republican is facing nine other candidates — eight of them Republicans — for the Georgia Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner seat.

One of the other GOP hopefuls, Gerry Purcell, also lives in Forsyth County.

The primary runoff election is set for Aug. 10.

The insurance post isn’t the only crowded statewide campaign.

Secretary of state has drawn seven candidates and the gubernatorial race features seven Republicans and seven Democrats.

For Congress, the U.S. House District 7 race is also deep, with John Linder’s pending departure. Nine candidates — eight Republicans and one Democrat — qualified last week. The district includes part of south Forsyth.

District 9 covers the rest of the county. Because Nathan Deal has vacated that post to run for governor, a May 11 special election is being held to fill the unexpired term.

Eight candidates qualified for that contest, the winner of which will serve until January.

All hopefuls interested in serving a full, two-year term needed to qualify again.

Most did, except for lone Democrat Mike Freeman of Gainesville.

Bobby Reese of Flowery Branch, who did not qualify for the special election, did sign up for the July primary.