The race for Georgia House District 129 has drawn the interest of a six-term state senator and the son of the man who vacated the position last week.
Retired Realtor Ted Land, 72, served in the Georgia Senate from 1979-1990 and on Columbus Council for two and a half years in the mid-1990s. He said Monday it is a “distinct possibiltiy” he will run.
Kip Smith, the 27-year-old son of Rep. Vance Smith, said he is “seriously considering” running for the office. Vance Smith was named commissioner of the Georgia Department of Transportation on Thursday and will have to resign his House post to take that position.
Three candidates already are in the race: Columbus residents Colin Martin, 42, and Jerry Luquire, 70, announced over the weekend that they would run, and Pine Mountain businessman Steve Earles announced his candidacy Monday.Earles, 56, owns Refresh Salon in Pine Mountain. He has never held or sought political office. He was appointed by Gov. Sonny Perdue to the state Professional Licensing Board of Massage Therapy.
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District 129 includes parts of Muscogee, Harris and Troup counties. A special election will have to be held to fill Vance Smith’s unexpired term. The election likely will be held this fall.
State law requires the governor first to call for the election, and then the Georgia Secretary of State must set qualifying dates. The General Assembly is not scheduled to convene again until January.
Land said he would rather not make a formal announcement until qualifying dates are set.
“I am thinking about it, and I am giving it a lot of consideration,” he said. “I enjoyed serving in the state Senate, and I was re-elected five times.”
Land represented District 16, the seat currently held by Sen. Seth Harp, R-Columbus.
“I have had some people talking to me about it, and they really got me thinking about it,” he said.
After he left the Senate, Land served out the unexpired Columbus Counil post vacated by his cousin, former state senator and current Federal Court Judge Clay Land.
“I didn’t enjoy council as much as I did the state Senate,” Land said. “I feel like I know the process and can serve constiuents’ needs.”
The younger Smith said politics and service run in his family. His grandfather, Vance Smith Sr., was involved in Harris County and Pine Mountain politics for three decades, and his father was on the Harris County Commission before being elected to the House.
“Being a native of Harris County, a resident of Muscogee County and having gone to school in Troup County, I have an interest in the whole district,” Smith said. “I want to make sure everybody in the district is represented.”
He said he talked to his father and his mother, Michele Smith, about running for the seat his father held since 1992.
“My father and mother have been supportive,” said Kip Smith, the youngest of three siblings. “They generally try and let us make a decision and once that decision is made, they support it.”
Smith did not give a timeframe on when he might announce his candidacy.
Smith, who is married to the former Caroline Saunders, is the managing partner of thee Dallas Chipley Group, a real estate management company in Columbus. He owned the downtown Columbus clothing store Chancellor’s before selling it a couple of years ago. Martin, a financial representative with Northwestern Mutual Financial Network, is a former vice-chairman of the Muscogee Republican Party, ran for Columbus Council Post 2 in 2002, but lost to Glenn Davis. He has been active in local politics for about 10 years.
Luquire also has long been involved in Columbus politics. He is a publication consultant and a former talk-show host, and previously ran for a seat on the Muscogee County school board.