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Posted: November 7, 2012 3:29 p.m.

Democrat Lee to switch parties after loss

A day after losing by nearly 20,000 votes to her Republican opponent in the State Senate 17 race, Democrat Nelva Lee of McDonough has decided to switch parties.

Lee consistently described herself as a conservative Republican during her first foray into the political candidate realm, but now she believes that she would be best served running as a Republican.

"I ran as a conservative Democrat because that is what I have always considered myself. I was disappointed when conservative Democrats became a dying breed in Washington and even in Georgia. However, since the primaries, the Democratic platform has become even more liberal, embracing views that are different than my conservative values of pro-Life and anti-gay marriage," Lee said in a press release. "So it is with a heavy heart that I leave the Democratic Party for the Republican (party) effective today."

Lee congratulated incumbent Republican Sen. Rick Jeffares of Locust Grove on his victory Tuesday, but also informed him that she was likely to run against him in the 2014 primary.

"While this was my first campaign for elected office, I have been a political junky all of my life and have known that I would run for office someday as I believe that political service is my life's purpose," Lee said in her release. "I am encouraged in this endeavor by many republicans who wished to see me run as a Republican in this past race and who pledged their support if I chose to run again on the Republican ticket."

Lee is the founder and owner of Medical Interpreting and Translating Institute Online, an online certification program designed to provide the skills necessary to become a professional medical interpreter.

Lee is having a campaign celebration party at 7 p.m. Thursday at Jazzy Brown restaurant in McDonough off Jonesboro road.

As for Jeffares, who captured 46,776 votes to Lee's 27,757, he said following the race he was looking forward to serving another term in office.

"I'm proud that people voted for me," Jeffares said. "I will try to do the right thing and try to be as conservative as I can be. I'm glad to be reelected and proud to work for the people."

Jeffares said over his first two years, he showed that he could be a strong conservative voice and will continue in his future term.

"I feel like I went up there my first two years and voted very conservative and reduced the budget of the state, and I feel proud to represent the 17th district," Jeffares said.

Jeffares is the president and owner of J&T Environmental Services, a firm that helps small cities and counties with their water and sewer needs, in addition to serving as a project manager for engineering firm Ben Turnipseed Engineers.

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