Ex-UGA student president has fast-track for Georgia House seat

A year ago, Republican Houston Gaines was the University of Georgia’s student government president. Now he has the fast-track for an open Athens-based seat in the Georgia Legislature.

Gaines was the sole Republican to qualify for the conservative-leaning seat after former state Rep. Doug McKillip decided not to run for the seat vacated by Regina Quick after she was tapped to a judgeship.

Democrat Deborah Gonzalez, an attorney and former administrator, is in the running as well, but she has her work cut out for her. The district is so conservative that Quick has never faced a general election opponent since ousting McKillip from the seat in 2012.

Gaines is something of a political prodigy. At 19, he was Athens Mayor Nancy Denson’s campaign manager. Two years later, he won the vote at UGA to become student body president. We’re told he’s quickly consolidated local GOP support; campaign disclosures show he’s raised at least $66,000.

Even if he wins in November, he may not be out of the woods. McKillip, a former Democrat who switched to the GOP in 2010, told Flagpole not to count him out. “Said I’d run in ’18, not ’17,” he told the Athens publication. “We’ll see.”

Side note: Another former UGA student president is also making a bid for an open House seat. Democrat Sachin Varghese, an attorney, is one of several Democrats aiming for the Atlanta-based seat long held by former state Rep. Stacey Abrams.


The Georgia House will soon have another opening: State Rep. Bruce Broadrick of Dalton is resigning after five years in the Legislature.

From the Chattanooga Times Free Press:

Broadrick, 65, told the Times Free Press he stepped down because of his health. He did not elaborate, but he also told the Dalton Daily Citizen he suffered a stroke several years ago, cutting off blood flow to the right side of his brain. He said his family feared he could not safely drive back and forth from Dalton to Atlanta to work in the state capitol this winter.


We heard a lot of chatter from politicos over the weekend about the story on Georgia’s evolving pitch to land Amazon’s second headquarters, a once-in-a-generation deal that could bring 50,000 jobs to Atlanta.

Many held the view that transit will play an even bigger role in next year’s legislative session if Georgia is still in the hunt.

“A public commitment for the state to fund transit would help our chances,” said state Rep. Scott Holcomb of DeKalb. “Transit is one of the keys to competitiveness and a criteria for HQ2. It’s time.”

Atlanta City Council President Ceasar Mitchell, among the leading candidates for mayor, said Amazon is likely looking for a regional approach to transit.

“These solutions can’t be just in the city. It has to be regionally-connected,” he said. “We have a lot of work in that area. And if we can show where there’s a significant investment that’s already been committed – and that the rest of the region can come along – that can help us.”


The warmer-than-average winter took a devastating toll on the state’s peach crops, taking out an estimated 85 percent of the fruit. Read the FiveThirtyEight piece for a full take on how climate change almost wiped out the Peach State’s namesake product.


The editor of Food Safety News had some scathing words for Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, the former Georgia governor now in charge of the nation’s farms policy.

Dan Flynn noted that an undersecretary for food safety vacancy has existed for more than 1,350 jobs and is now one of a dozen top jobs at the USDA that doesn’t appear close to being filled.

From his post:

President Trump and Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue appear to have priorities that do not include food safety. Two of the six pending nominations speak not to priorities, but to Perdue’s need for help: his deputy, Stephen Censky, and general counsel, Stephen Alexander Vaden.

Appointments taking priority over food safety include William Northey at the farm and foreign agriculture services; Gregory Ibach at marketing and regulatory services; Ted McKinney at trade and foreign agricultural affairs; and the controversial Samuel H. Clovis Jr. at research, education and economics.


Jimmy Carter’s experience in a Winnipeg hospital earlier this year seem to have helped cement his support for a single-player healthcare system.

At his annual town hall event at Emory University last week, the Georgia native told students about how he was hospitalized in July while working on a Habitat for Humanity project in the Canadian city.

From CBC News:

Carter said when he was released, he asked what he owed and was told "zero," adding "the Canadian taxpayers paid for my treatment."

... Carter told the students that, theoretically, single-payer is "the best system."


Atlanta mayoral candidate Cathy Woolard wants it known that she didn’t seek the Georgia Log Cabin Republicans endorsement – nor did she bat an eye when the group representing LGBT conservatives passed her over.

“Some in the press have referred to Georgia Log Cabin Republican’s decision not to endorse me as a snub, but at no point was I contacted by GLCR, and I did not pursue their endorsement,” said Woolard.

Woolard, a former city council president who would be the city’s first openly gay mayor, has the endorsement of Georgia Equality, Human Rights Campaign and other gay rights organizations.

About the Author

Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein is a political reporter who covers the governor's office and state politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.