Lawmaker will face challenger

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Two Columbia County politicians formally announced their intentions to run for public offices Tuesday.

Ben Harbin: Lawmaker last faced opposition in 2000, when Ron Beul tried to unseat him.  Associated Press
Associated Press
Ben Harbin: Lawmaker last faced opposition in 2000, when Ron Beul tried to unseat him.

Former Harlem Mayor Scott Dean plans to run for a recently-vacated county commission seat and teacher Lee Benedict will challenge state Rep. Ben Harbin, R-Evans, for a Georgia House seat.

Both races will conclude in a July 15 primary election.

Serving in the state Legislature since 1994, Mr. Harbin last faced opposition in 2000 when Ron Beul tried to unseat him, according to Columbia County Board of Elections officials.

Mr. Benedict blamed Mr. Harbin's recent legal troubles for depriving Columbia County of thousands of dollars in state education funding. Not long after Atlanta police charged Mr. Harbin with drunken driving after a May 2007 single-car wreck, Gov. Sonny Perdue slashed $120,000 earmarked for a foreign-language program at Stevens Creek Elementary, Mr. Benedict said.

Columbia County Republican Party Chairwoman Debbie McCord said a challenger for Mr. Harbin's seat might help Columbia County.

"I don't think it's going to make a lot of difference," Ms. McCord said. "The fact that he has a challenger will bring a little more focus on Columbia County."

Mr. Harbin said Tuesday he will appear in court on April 29 to face the DUI charge. However, Ms. McCord doubts the charge will hurt Mr. Harbin's chances for re-election.

Mr. Benedict said at his sparsely attended campaign announcement that he wants to bring some "common sense" to the state Legislature and make himself available to his constituents. Mr. Benedict's last run for a state office was last year when he lost to Bill Jackson in a June special election for the 24th District state Senate seat.

After serving five years as Harlem's mayor, Mr. Dean resigned April 5 to run for the District 4 county commission seat. Former county Commissioner Lee Anderson resigned from the office this month to run for the District 117 state House seat currently held by Rep. Barry Fleming, R-Harlem. Mr. Fleming intends to oppose U.S. Rep. Paul Broun, R-Athens, for the District 10 congressional seat.

Mr. Dean said Tuesday that he is ideally qualified to improve relations between county officials and officials from Harlem and Grovetown. Qualifying for both races begins April 28 and will last until May 2.

Morris News Service contributed to this article.

Reach Donnie Fetter at (706) 868-1222, ext. 115, or donnie.fetter@augustachronicle.com.

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NoDem
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NoDem 04/16/08 - 07:46 am
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Harbin needs a challenger,

Harbin needs a challenger, and he deserves to be soundly defeated. Not only does he have the DUI and perpetual trial deferrals, but he has now been identified as a big recipient of Lobbyist moneys and pay for committee meetings and travcel. All this might be acceptable if he accomplished anything, but he is an abject failure when it comes to doing his job. Now is time for him to retreat to Martinez and get a real job instead of the ontinuance of his hosing the tax payers.

JimCox
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JimCox 04/16/08 - 09:10 am
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I'm not sure I understand the

I'm not sure I understand the connection between personal problems and having money for a foreign language program eliminated from the budget. The funding for this program has been at issue for years, it is not as recent of an issue as this article would lead you to believe.

godsglorygirl
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godsglorygirl 04/16/08 - 11:51 am
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All I have to say is that who

All I have to say is that who wants to elect someone with ZERO solid political background! Mr. Benedict could do nothing for our area. WE ARE THRIVING!!! LOOK AROUND AT HOW GOOD OUT COUNTY IS! Give me a break Mr. Benedict.

JimCox
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JimCox 04/16/08 - 03:19 pm
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I still don't understand the

I still don't understand the leap you are making, are you saying that the Governor has a vendetta against Ben?

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