Four qualify to compete for SW Georgia House seat in November

    Today is likely one of the last chances many Georgia voters will get to use the state's old balloting technology as they go to the polls to decide local elections. Jessica McGowan/Getty Images

    Four candidates will compete to replace long-time Republican lawmaker Ed Rynders in a special election set for Nov. 5.

    The race will feature two southwest Georgia mayors, a military serviceman and a retiree. It includes a Democrat but the solidly conservative district, which includes parts of Lee, Sumter and Worth counties, is expected to stay in Republican hands.

    Sylvester Mayor Bill Yearta, Leesburg Mayor Jim Quinn and Georgia National Army Guardsman Tyler Johnson quailified to run as Republicans. Retiree Mary Egler, who has sought the seat twice before, will run as a Democrat. Qualifying ended Wednesday.

    “You’re not filling Ed’s shoes,” Quinn said when reached Wednesday night. “He was our local Rush Limbaugh.”

    Rynders, who chairs the House Governmental Affairs Committee, which handled this year’s sweeping election bill, has been in office since 2003. He last won reelection with 74% of the vote in 2018, easily fending off a Democratic challenger.

    He told the Albany Herald this month that he was stepping aside early partly for health reasons. All legislative seats are up for reelection next fall.

    Quinn, editor of the family-owned Lee County Ledger, said he expects the ongoing water wars, Georgia’s anti-abortion measure and talk of tightening the state’s gun laws to loom large over the special election.

    If the race goes to a run-off, it will be settled on Dec. 3.

    Jill Nolin
    Jill Nolin has spent nearly 15 years reporting on state and local government in four states, focusing on policy and political stories and tracking public spending. She has spent the last five years chasing stories in the halls of Georgia’s Gold Dome, earning recognition for her work showing the impact of rising opioid addiction on the state’s rural communities. She is a graduate of Troy University.

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