Originally created 08/11/05

Augusta lawyers seek Walker seat

ATLANTA - Two Augusta Democrats formally qualified Wednesday to run in next month's special election to fill the Senate seat vacated by the federal conviction of Charles Walker.

Mr. Walker was convicted of 127 counts of fraud and is awaiting sentencing.

Former Rep. Ben Allen and Ed Tarver, both attorneys, tossed their hats in the ring at the same time, at about 1 p.m. Mr. Allen, 51, gave up his seat in the House in 2002 to make an unsuccessful run for the Democratic nomination for the 12th congressional district, losing the primary to Mr. Walker's son Champ, who was later defeated by Max Burns.

Mr. Tarver, 46, ran unsuccessfully in the 2004 primary for the District 22 state Senate seat, losing to Mr. Walker, who already had been indicted but had not been tried.

Mr. Allen is a native of Richmond County. Mr. Tarver has lived in the county 26 years.

The campaign will be short because the nonpartisan election is Sept. 20.

Mr. Allen said personal contact will be critical in a compact district that can be covered on foot.

"Money is not going to be the deciding factor in the race," he said. "The deciding factor is going to be to let people know there is an election. ... The other thing is making sure that people come out to vote."

Both men said health care and jobs were important to voters they had talked with, as was the question of changes in the structure of the consolidated local government.

"It's one of the issues that comes up most frequently in my interaction with voters, but that's not something that they want to be changed right now," Mr. Tarver said.

He and Mr. Allen both said they preferred to hold their judgment on the changes until the report of a study committee organized by Rep. Henry Howard, D-Augusta, to look into the matter.

Observers have speculated that more candidates might join the race before the qualifying period ends at noon Friday in the Atlanta offices of the secretary of state.


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