Whitehead makes bid for seat

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State Sen. Jim Whitehead announced Monday that he will resign to run for the congressional seat left vacant by the death of Charlie Norwood. "I can't be Charlie Norwood, but I think I can be Jim Whitehead. I think I can make you proud," said Mr. Whitehead, a Republican from Evans.

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State Sen. Jim Whitehead said he wants to represent the district much as Charlie Norwood did - with conservative values.  Jim Blaylock/Staff
Jim Blaylock/Staff
State Sen. Jim Whitehead said he wants to represent the district much as Charlie Norwood did - with conservative values.

Mr. Norwood, who represented Georgia's 10th Congressional District, died Feb. 13, and Gov. Sonny Perdue will call for a special election to fill the seat.

State Rep. Barry Fleming, R-Harlem, also mentioned as a potential candidate, said he will not run and will endorse Mr. Whitehead.

"No one can fill Charlie Norwood's shoes, but someone has got to go to Washington and represent and vote for us, and I just know he's the right person for that," said Mr. Fleming, who served with Mr. Whitehead on the Columbia County Commission.

Mr. Whitehead, a county commissioner from 1995 to 2002, was chairman of the commission for more than two years and was elected in 2004 to the 24th Senate District, which includes Columbia, Lincoln, McDuffie, Wilkes and parts of Elbert and Warren counties.

"I think I have proven that I know how to represent people," Mr. Whitehead said at a news conference at the Columbia County Government Center in Evans. "I can't do anything without people, and I do believe that if I ask somebody to vote for me I owe them the right to talk to me about their concerns and what I can do to represent them."

Mr. Whitehead said he would like to represent the 10th District much as Mr. Norwood did: with conservative leadership focused on providing quality education, curbing illegal immigration and eliminating wasteful government spending.

Democrat Terry Holley, who lost to Mr. Norwood in November, said he plans to run for the seat again. The former schoolteacher was re-elected in January as the state Democratic Party's 10th Congressional District chairman.

Two area officials have announced interest in filling Mr. Whitehead's state Senate seat. Columbia County Associate Magistrate Judge and private attorney Bobby Christine and former state Rep. Bill Jackson, also a member of the state Board of Corrections, have said they are considering running.

Columbia County political observers had been worried that with both Mr. Whitehead and Mr. Fleming in the race for Mr. Norwood's seat, the county's vote would be split, potentially helping other candidates in the race - including state Sen. Ralph Hudgens, R-Comer, who previously announced his intention to run. Another potential candidate said Monday that he's interested in the race. Former NFL player and Athens native Willie Green said he's weighing support from Republican leaders in the district.

Mr. Green, who attended Clarke Central High School, joined the Detroit Lions in 1990 as an eighth-round draft pick. He played for Tampa Bay, Carolina and Denver before leaving professional football in the late 1990s and opening a chain of payday lending stores.

The political newcomer now works for Community Financial Services of America, a lobby that supports regulated but legal payday loans, a lending practice that's banned in Georgia.

Mr. Green has lived in Atlanta but recently returned to Athens, he said.

He said he would like to run as a Republican in the nonpartisan race but would label himself independent if he doesn't get support of party leaders.

Morris News Service contributed to this article.

Reach Valerie Rowell at (706) 868-1222, ext. 110, or valerie.rowell@augustachronicle.com.

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CHIEF 02/20/07 - 07:17 am
Somebody else run thats

Somebody else run thats younger with a message! we dont won't whitehead!

work for a living
work for a living 02/20/07 - 09:29 am
It would be nice if whomever

It would be nice if whomever run could be an advocate for the people and not special interest groups. There will never be another Norwood but we could all at least strive to be half the man he was. If all of our politicians worked with the honest public desire that he had this world would be a much better place to live.

Rambler 02/20/07 - 10:45 am
I concur with the Chief.

I concur with the Chief. Whitehead will not be in the House long enough to help the district. He'll be there two or three terms or however long it takes for his federal pension to vest.

nobody 02/20/07 - 12:04 pm
Might I remind all of you

Might I remind all of you that the Contract with America, which Norwood was a part of after his first election, included a provision to place term limits on career politicians - something Norwood became in spite of his support for the contract. Whitehead has been in and out of politics and has the best interest of his constituents at heart. Should he be elected, his shorter tenure in office would return much integrity to our district seat.

eschamb 02/20/07 - 09:04 pm
I would love to run for

I would love to run for office. Retired Army veteran, Georgia native. I have no politicial connections and would be nice to have a new face to respresent part of Georgia for the people.

govdog 02/20/07 - 11:13 pm
Perks are good. Excellent

Perks are good. Excellent retirement package. You would need a big suitcase to accomodate all the hush money.

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