After Stone qualified to run for Senate District 23, first J.B. Powell withdrew to run for agriculture commissioner, then Leon Garvin was forced to withdraw because he didn't reside in the district. Then Democrat Chuck Pardue, who collected more than 6,000 signatures to run as an independent, abandoned the race after his son returned injured from Afghanistan.
But a Jefferson County widow who learned to swim at 42, runs a water-testing business and is the pastor of a church will be making sure the rural district doesn't automatically turn red.
"It's all good; I need the exercise," said Diane Evans, who qualified to run as a write-in candidate for Senate District 23 with the Georgia Secretary of State's Office on Aug. 24.
Evans, 49, said she has enjoyed traveling the district at a whirlwind pace, giving presentations on how to write in a candidate's name on touch-screen voting machines and visiting as many as nine churches on a Sunday.
"I need to touch everybody's head. You talk everybody to death, and I just love it," she said.
She also is learning about the issues facing District 23, which covers Washington, Burke, Screven, Jenkins, Jefferson and parts of Wilkinson, Emanuel and Richmond counties.
"When I was down in Jenkins County, there was one lady who was really proud that we're going to get a prison, but there were these skilled laborers, 50-plus-year-old women who said they would not benefit. And they told me, 'They took our Citi Trends.' "
Jenkins County, where unemployment is above 20 percent, will soon be home to a new, privately run state prison, but lost one of its few dress shops.
"We admire her courage and her insistence," Richmond County Democratic Party Chairman Lowell Greenbaum said of Evans.
The party's efforts are focused primarily on increasing voter turnout, and Evans "brings a voting machine with her," he said.
Powell said he has met Evans but doesn't know her well.
"I think she's a very nice lady and I feel comfortable that she's going to do a good job," he said.