Originally created 06/28/02

Newcomer leaves Senate race



Democrat Monique K. Cheeks, who qualified to run for the 23rd District state Senate seat against incumbent Sen. Don Cheeks, D-Augusta, dropped out of the race Thursday.

Mrs. Cheeks, a political newcomer who is not related to Mr. Cheeks, withdrew from the Democratic primary election in a notarized letter faxed to Secretary of State Cathy Cox from Orange County, Fla., said Linda Beazley, the director of the state elections division.

Mrs. Cheeks, 36, gave no reason for withdrawing, but her residency had triggered at least one complaint to the secretary of state's office.

Mr. Cheeks contended Mrs. Cheeks did not live at 763 Aumond Road in the 23rd District but at 85 Conifer Circle in the 22nd District.

The telephone at the Aumond Road address has been disconnected. An answering machine message at the Conifer Circle address tells callers they have reached the Cheeks Agency. A message left at that number was not returned.

Mr. Cheeks said that on the application a candidate signs when filing to run, the candidate must affirm residency in the district in which she is qualifying.

"And this is a criminal offense if you falsify your application. It says so right on the application you file," he said.

Under Georgia law, false swearing is a felony.

Mr. Cheeks said he did not file a complaint about Mrs. Cheeks' candidacy but did send three pieces of information to the secretary of state - a copy of Mrs. Cheeks' homestead exemption, her voter registration and a certificate of corporation for the National Legacy Foundation Inc. at 1826 Walton Way that she and her husband, Dr. Eddie Cheeks, had signed in January indicating they lived at 85 Conifer Circle.

"I said the secretary of state should consider contacting her and tell her of the evidence she had in hand and the seriousness of what she had done," Mr. Cheeks said.

Falsifying information on a homestead exemption application also is a felony, Mr. Cheeks said.

"I personally feel she was pressured and coerced into running, not realizing the full consequences of falsifying her application," he said.

Mr. Cheeks refused to identify the person he thought had pressured Mrs. Cheeks, but some political watchers have said state Sen. Charles Walker, D-Augusta, had a hand in it.

Mr. Walker denied it.

"I have my own race to run," he said. "I'm going to focus my attention on the 22nd District senatorial race, and I hope other people will do the same."

Reach Sylvia Cooper at (706) 823-3228 or sylviaco@augustachronicle.com.