Originally created 08/07/02

3 in GOP challenge Cox



ATLANTA - When Cathy Cox first ran for secretary of state in 1998, the south Georgia native already had served two terms in the state House of Representatives and three years as the assistant secretary of state.

The Democrat had firsthand experience handling Georgia's professional licensing and elections, the secretary of state's two chief tasks.

Such a background might seem daunting to those challenging Ms. Cox in this fall's election, but the three Republicans competing in the Aug. 20 primary for a chance to oust Ms. Cox aren't worried.

Even though they haven't worked full time in elections or licensing, they say they're optimistic.

Credit consultant Charlie Bailey, lawyer Vernadette Ramirez Broyles and insurance broker Jerry Wyatt all say they are the best option the GOP has in the battle against Ms. Cox, and the best option for the people of Georgia.

Mr. Bailey, 56, has spent the past 17 years as the president and owner of Credit Management of America. Originally from Tennessee, Mr. Bailey has as his key issues stopping voter fraud, ensuring fair elections and closely monitoring license inspections.

He disagrees with Ms. Cox's $54 million plan to unveil a system of electronic voting in Georgia this fall.

"I would not have promoted the new voting machines," said Mr. Bailey. "Envision a 78-year-old man who has never operated a computer and they hand him a card instead of a ballot and they direct him to a computer screen. Is that going to be better than giving him a ballot with a pencil?"

Ms. Broyles is a New York City native who moved to Georgia in 1995 after completing law school.

Ms. Broyles, 37, has worked in the office of the Fulton County district attorney and is now the legal counsel and policy director for We Care America, a nonprofit organization that supports faith-based care providers.

Her main issues are maintaining accurate voting records, advocating stronger ethics laws, promoting business development, preserving open government and serving as a state ambassador.

Ms. Broyles said her background as the daughter of Puerto Rican natives will help bring other minorities to the Republican Party, getting them involved in the political process.

"I have this capacity and interest to reach out to people of color, who in the past may have felt alienated from the Republican Party, and demonstrate that this party is not a racist party," she said.

Among those hoping to oversee Georgia's elections division, Ms. Broyles has voted significantly less than her competitors. Since 1995, she has gone to the voting booths just twice. By comparison, Mr. Bailey has voted 11 times, and the third candidate, Mr. Wyatt, voted 17 times. Ms. Cox has voted 16 times.

If Ms. Broyles votes in the Aug. 20 primary, it will mark the first time she has cast a ballot in a primary election.

Mr. Wyatt, a 50-year-old insurance broker from Lithonia, did not answer requests to be interviewed.

The candidate who wins the Republican primary will face Ms. Cox and Libertarian candidate Mike Pitts in the Nov. 5 general election.

Name: Charles "Charlie" Bailey

Age: 56

Born: Crossville, Tenn.

Home: Marietta

Education: Attended Kennesaw College, did not graduate

Occupation: President and owner, Credit Management of America

Political experience: None

Key leadership positions: President and owner of Credit Management of America

Campaign Web site: www.charliebailey.net

Name: Vernadette Ramirez Broyles

Age: 37

Born: New York City

Home: Norcross

Education: Bachelor's degree, Yale University, 1987; graduated from Harvard Law School, 1995

Occupation: We Care America, director of public policy and legal counsel

Political experience: None

Key leadership positions: Coordinating council for Juvenile Justice Delinquency Program, member

Campaign Web site: www.faithingeorgia.com

Name: Jerry Wyatt

Age: 50

Home: Lithonia

Occupation: Insurance broker

Political experience: None

Key leadership positions: Served as vice chairman for Republican Party's state executive committee, 1997-2002

Reach Brian Basinger at (404) 589-8424 or brianmns@mindspring.com.