Qualifying opens in Georgia to replace GOP state Sen. Charlie Bethel

Mar. 14, 2016 - Senate Insurance and Labor Committee Chairman Charlie Bethel announces that the committee will take no action on HB 838 after multiple members of the committee recused themselves and the remaining members did not make a motion. The bill was the focus of an Atlanta Journal-Constitution investigation into conflicts of interests at the Capitol. The measure - which would have set a minimum compensation for insurance agents when they sell health policies - was backed by House Rules Chairman John Meadows. BOB ANDRES / BANDRES@AJC.COM
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Mar. 14, 2016 - Senate Insurance and Labor Committee Chairman Charlie Bethel announces that the committee will take no action on HB 838 after multiple members of the committee recused themselves and the remaining members did not make a motion. The bill was the focus of an Atlanta Journal-Constitution investigation into conflicts of interests at the Capitol. The measure - which would have set a minimum compensation for insurance agents when they sell health policies - was backed by House Rules Chairman John Meadows. BOB ANDRES / BANDRES@AJC.COM

Credit: Bob Andres

Credit: Bob Andres

Qualifying began this morning at the Georgia Secretary of State's Office in Atlanta to replace state Sen. Charlie Bethel, R-Dalton.

Bethel, 40, won reelection to the state Legislature last Tuesday. A day later, Gov. Nathan Deal announced his appointment to the Georgia Court of Appeals, effective Jan. 1.

Bethel, an attorney who served as chairman of the Senate Insurance and Labor Committee, then resigned Friday, ending a six-year legislative career during which he served as Deal’s floor leader in the Senate chamber.

Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp has called a Dec. 13 special election to fill Bethel’s former seat, which includes parts or all of Gordon, Murray, Pickens, and Whitfield counties in north Georgia.

Eligible candidates have until 2 p.m. Thursday to sign up.