Who Will Replace Senator Charlie Bethel?

State Senator Charlie Bethel (R-SD54) received an appointment to the Georgia Court of Appeals by Governor Nathan Deal today effective January 1, 2017.  Many congratulations to the Senator on his appointment.  I know he’ll do well.

Senator Bethel, who was also on the short list to be appointed to the Georgia Supreme Court, did not face Democratic opposition in yesterday’s election, but now voters will return to the polls soon after ringing in 2017 to elect a successor to Bethel.  For those playing at home, the 54th Senate District covers all of Whitfield and Murray Counties, the eastern portion of Gordon, and the western portion of Pickens.

The question is who might that be?  Well, I’m always up for playing the speculation game.  Note: I haven’t talked to these people.  These are just best guesses on who *might* decide to qualify for the special election, so YMMV. See my speculation below the fold.

State Representative Tom Dickson (R-HD6) – Representative Dickson had a tough race reelection race that he ultimately lost in the primary run-off this summer.  His support of the Transportation Bill last year can be counted as a major factor to his defeat.  I would not be surprised if he decides to jump in.

Murray County Sole Commissioner Brittany Pittman – Commissioner Pittman is another incumbent who lost her primary run-off race.  She’s worked hard to bring the inland port to Murray County, but there has been a good amount of opposition to the port coming to their home county.  Unfortunately, her drive of bringing jobs and building up the local economy lead to her downfall.  I’d definitely keep an eye out on her political career.

Former Whitfield GOP Chairman Chuck Payne – Chuck has long worked to elect conservative Republicans.  Recently, he resigned his chairmanship to volunteer full-time for Ben Carson’s presidential campaign in Georgia.  He’s worked behind the scenes making phone calls, going door-to-door, putting up yard signs, and volunteering in any way he can for the past number of years.  It might be time for him to run for his own race for public office.

Former Dalton Mayor and GOP Gubernatorial Candidate David Pennington – Mayor Pennington has been fairly quiet after the 2014 election and his bid against Governor Nathan Deal in the Republican primary.  He’ll pop up on social media every once-in-a-while with an essay on reducing the size of government and taxes.  I would say he’s still popular among the TEA Party folks in the area and might give him another shot at the 2018 gubernatorial race.

Dalton Mayor Dennis Mock – Mayor Mock was first elected to fill the unexpired term of David Pennington when he resigned to run for governor in 2014.  It would seem like a natural move upward.

Dalton Councilman Gary Crews – Councilman Crews has been around the local political scene for a while and has served on the Dalton City Council for over 6 years now.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see him toss his hat into the ring.

State Representative Bruce Broadrick (R-HD4) – Representative Broadrick was elected in 2012 to the Georgia House and currently holds a couple of vice-chairmanships.  He may decide to stick to his House seat or try to go the chamber across the hall.

Conda Goodson – Ms. Goodson ran against Senator Bethel in the Republican primary earlier this year.  She may decide to try again with a vacant seat.

Sarah Fields – Ms. Fields ran in the three-way race in House District 8.  She did not make the run-off against Representative Tom Dickson, but she may have enough name ID to run for the Senate District 54.

Others?? – Certainly, there are other folks that I’m leaving off.  My “shortlist” is heavy on Whitfield County-Dalton mainly because that’s the major metropolitan area for the district, plus, both Senator Bethel and his predecessor, Dr. Don Thomas, are from Dalton. There may be other candidates that qualify who live in Gordon, Murray, or Pickens County.

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