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Three candidates qualify for District 26 race
Seat would replace former District 26 state Rep. Geoff Duncan
Geoff Duncan
Geoff Duncan

Three candidates — two Republicans and a Democrat — have qualified to run for the unexpired term of former District 26 state Rep. Geoff Duncan, who stepped down from the seat to focus on his campaign for lieutenant governor.

After three days of qualifying last week, Republican candidates Marc Morris and Tina Trent and Democrat Steve Smith qualified for the special election for the seat, which represents east and northeast Forsyth. Duncan was first elected to the position in 2012.

Morris, a Navy veteran and president of The Talmadge Group, first announced his candidacy in May and has been campaigning locally since. 

 “I have a passion for serving others, our community and our nation,” Morris said in May. “From serving in the U.S. Navy to working in numerous volunteer positions in Forsyth County, I have a proven track record of seeing that passion through.

Trent — a political organizer, consultant and writer — previously served on the executive committee of the Lumpkin County Republican Party and said she was looking forward to meeting voters over the coming weeks.

“It’s coming up soon. My particular talent is introducing myself to voters in the area,” Trent said. “My presence in this district so far is that I’ve spoken to a lot of groups, including women’s groups, mostly about education issues and I’ll be continuing to do that.”

Smith, a retail manager and the only Democrat, said he was a political newcomer and knows he has an uphill battle in the heavily-Republic District. He said he wasn’t quite sure what to expect leading up to the race.

“It’s exciting for me; I don’t really know what to expect,” Smith said. “This is a special election and it’s only five weeks away, so it’s not going to be normal in the election season sense of normal … I’ve always been interested in politics and always been interested in the process, and so having a special election opportunity, I’m seeing it as kind of an education about the process.”

The election will be held on Nov. 7, and in-person absentee voting will begin on Oct. 16. If no candidate receives 50 percent of the vote plus one vote, a runoff election will be held on Dec. 5. 

Voters must register to vote in the election by Oct. 12. 

Qualifying was held for three days last week in Atlanta and cost $400 for each candidate.

Candidates for the seat must be at least 21, be a citizen of Georgia for at least two years and must have lived in the district for at least a year.

Terms for state representatives are two years.

Duncan announced in August he would step down from the seat he was first elected to in 2012 to focus on his campaign for lieutenant governor.

His term was set to expire at the end of 2018, and he was already not seeking re-election next year as state rules only allow candidates to declare for one position. Duncan’s replacement would serve the remainder of his term and will be up for re-election next year.

The city of Cumming will have three elections the same day as the District 26 race.

In the city elections, Mayor H. Ford Gravitt will run for re-election against Troy Brumbalow, Post 1 Councilman Chuck Welch against Chad Crane and Post 2 Councilman Quincy Holton against Jason Evans.

Three weeks of advance voting for the city election will be held 8 a.m.-5p.m. on weekdays between Oct. 16 and Nov. 3. All voting will take place at City Hall.

Forsyth County will not be holding an election to replace former District 2 Commissioner Rick Swope, who stepped down in August to accept an executive position with E-Trade, since only Dennis Brown, a south Forsyth resident and retired U.S. Army Colonel, was the only candidate to qualify for the seat in September.