Qualifying for 2016 state and federal elections opened Monday at the Georgia Capitol, with few surprises in the early hours.
All 236 seats in the General Assembly, 14 in the U.S. House and one U.S. Senate seat and one spot on the state Public Service Commission are up for grabs, first in May party primaries and then in November’s general election.
The line for Republicans was quite long while Democrats had steady traffic. The two parties register candidates on opposite sides of the south wing of the Gold Dome.
Several high-profile lawmakers have already announced their retirements. Among them is Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Tommie Williams, R-Lyons, a former Senate president pro tem. The race for his District 19 seat in South Georgia is shaping up to be among the most competitive, with both former Rep. Delvis Dutton, R-Glennville, and Toombs County Commission Chairman Blake Tillery both running.
Also among early qualifiers for re-election Monday were U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, the Republican incumbent, and GOP Reps. Tom Price, Barry Loudermilk and Rick Allen. Democratic U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson also signed to run for re-election. No Democrat had signed up to challenge Isakson in the first 90 minutes of qualifying.