Our campaign for the Georgia Public Service Commission came to an end on August 10 when Tim Echols garnered 52 percent of the vote. Between May 1 and Aug. 10, we drove nearly 20,000 miles across Georgia, met wonderful people and shared our ideas on making this state better for all of us. Working hard to have been the first Newton County resident elected statewide was both gratifying, rewarding and eye opening, all at the same time.
I recall vividly the morning I learned current Public Service Commissioner Bobby Baker had announced his retirement. Running for the PSC is something I had thought about several times but with six year terms and the state divided into districts, the opportunity had not presented itself. Suddenly, here it was, totally unexpected since Baker had told his staff just the week before that he would run again and I had already paid and qualified for reelection to the Senate the day before. I planned to wait until Thursday to actually qualify, but when I arrived in the Senate chamber that Tuesday morning, the two senators who sit on each side of me told me I should run for the open seat. I hesitated because deciding to run for a statewide position is like moving to the edge and looking over into the abyss. But I knew I would not be the only person interested so I qualified that afternoon to try to stem any opposition. Three others also qualified before the end of the week.
The campaign was grueling to say the least. Former Army Sergeant Jonathan Jay, my hard working assistant, and I were on the road constantly. We put more than 20,000 miles on the car from June 1 to Aug. 10. We survived the primary on July 20 finishing second but 40,000 votes behind Tim Echols. We were stunned because I frankly thought Rep Jeff May (R-Monroe) was the opponent to watch. Only then did we understand the ground game Echols had from his TeenPact group and very close relationship with the John Oxendine campaign.
With three weeks of campaign time available for the runoff, there was simply no time to make up a deficit of 40,000 votes, mostly across north Georgia. We did in fact cut the lead to 20,000 by August 10 but four counties, Hall, Forsyth, Cobb and Gwinnett put the win in his column. We did very well in four of the five counties of the 17th Senate district, capping out at 68 percent in Newton County. For that I am very, very grateful.
The people of this state put 90 counties into our column on Aug 10. But gaining the GOP nod was not to be. Now for the first time in 12 years, I will return to private life on January 1, 2011. But I will not remain silent on issues of concern. I will work hard for the election of common sense candidates, to see the leftist radicals swept from power in Washington and this country return to the principles of our Constitution. God bless America.
State Sen. John Douglas (R-Social Circle) is the 17th state Senate district. He can be reached at (404) 656-0503, or firstname.lastname@example.org.