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Posted: January 21, 2014 10:00 p.m.

Official says primary date will simplify process

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Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp spoke at a luncheon for the Covington Rotary club Tuesday.

The 2014 Georgia State Legislative Session has been dubbed "Fast and Furious" by some pundits and publications, thanks to an early start to the primary elections.

That means a few things, including that Sen. Saxby Chambliss’ seat is up for grabs, state elections will be held in sync with the May 20 U.S. House and Senate primary, and, according to Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, "nine weeks of candidates bashing each other."

Kemp, who spoke at a Covington Rotary luncheon Tuesday, explained his office’s biggest issue of the legislative season, getting the bill passed to move up elections to the end of May. That was his office’s No. 1 goal this year, and so far it is on track. The bill, which earlier passed in Senate, passed in the House Friday and is awaiting the governor’s signature.

Kemp said all that is left is for the state’s lawyers to look it over and put it on Nathan Deal’s desk.

The move in election dates was one to help simplify the process after a federal judge ordered Georgia to hold its primary about two months earlier than in the past.

"It would have been a nightmare for us to have to have two different primaries," Kemp said. "Obviously it would have been very expensive for the counties and the state. It would have been an administrative nightmare for us, and been very confusing for the voters."

In order for it not to be a nightmare for the candidates, they are trying to streamline the legislative process.

While the media is talking about medicinal marijuana and a bill about carrying guns on college campuses, according to Kemp legislators are focused on making it a speedy session. The budget is the main issue, as campaigns will need to be started as soon as possible for the May 20 primary date.

"I think it will be pretty quiet," Kemp said. "I think everyone is going to keep their heads down and try to get the budget passed."

Primaries typically take place later in the year, leaving about three weeks before the July 22 runoff. However this year there will be nine weeks between primary and runoffs.

"That’s going to be the earliest election for a primary that I can remember us having in Georgia," Kemp said. "It is going to be interesting to see how that pays off in the ballot box."

Kemp has been Georgia’s Secretary of State since succeeding Karen Handel on Jan. 8, 2010.

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