CANTON — At least three candidates have decided to run in the Nov. 5 election to take the District 14 state Senate seat being vacated by Barry Loudermilk (R-Cassville) who has resigned to focus on his bid for Congress.
Cherokee County Supervisor of Elections and Registration Janet Munda said Thursday afternoon that the Secretary of State’s Office has advised that qualifying for the election, which is planned to be non-partisan, will be from Monday to Wednesday at the Georgia Secretary of State’s Election Office in Atlanta.
Loudermilk said Thursday the race is already looking like one to watch.
Although only one week has passed since he announced his resignation, Loudermilk said he is aware of at least three residents who are preparing to throw their names in the hat to take the seat, which represents large parts of Cherokee and Bartow counties and a small portion of Cobb County.
Dwight Pullen, 53, of Canton, Matt Laughridge, 25, of Cartersville, and Bruce Thompson, 48, of White, who is also Loudermilk’s finance chairman, all indicated Thursday that they plan to run for the seat.
Loudermilk said he met each of the three candidates at a function Thursday morning at the Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce in Canton.
But when asked if he had a favorite of the three men so far to express interest in filling the seat, Loudermilk declined to comment.
“We’re staying out of that race,” he joked.
Pullen, a former school principal, said Thursday that he has been planning on making a run for Loudermilk’s seat once the state Senator was out of office.
“I wasn’t expecting (Loudermilk) to resign until after the session,” Pullen said. But when he read last week about Loudermilk’s plans to resign, he decided to go for his seat. Pullen said his career in education would be a benefit to constituents.
“I’ve spent 32 years preparing students for the future, and now I realize we need to prepare the future for our young people,” he said.
Thompson, who is an insurance agent and native of Montana, also thought he would have to wait longer to make a formal run at Loudermilk’s state Senate seat. He has, however, been campaigning to take the seat for several months.
“We launched the campaign two and a half or three months ago,” Thompson said. “We were in full-swing campaigning. As I’ve told many people we were in a race. Now, we’re in a sprint.”
Thompson said he knows the needs and wants of the residents of the district, as he has owned businesses in Cherokee and Cobb in addition to his current business located in Cartersville.
“I’m pretty familiar with this northwest corridor,” he said.
Laughridge also knows about doing business in the district, said campaign coordinator Dave Wilson.
Wilson said Laughridge serves as vice president at a car dealership in Cartersville and has been “very involved civically.”
At just 25, Laughridge is the youngest of the candidates so far to announce his intention to run for Loudermilk’s seat. But Wilson said age shouldn’t be an issue.
“That’s one of the strengths he brings,” Wilson said.
Meanwhile, another Cherokee resident, Troy Welker, 43, said Thursday that he is “extremely interested” in qualifying for the seat but hasn’t made a final decision.
“I’m going to wait (to decide) until we can come up with who might be the best candidate for Cherokee County,” Welker said. “At this point, I’m leaning toward (running).”
Welker said he believes his experience can be beneficial to the district. His time of service on the board at the Anna Crawford Children’s Center could be of particular help, he said.
“I can see daily the impact it’s having in children’s lives in the county,” Welker said, adding that his impact to be expanded to all in the district.
Munda said qualifying will be at the Georgia Secretary of State’s Election Office in Atlanta from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday and from 8 a.m. to noon Wednesday.