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Darrel Ealum, Carol Fullerton trade verbal jabs as primary runoff nears

House 153 candidates swap barbs over financial disclosure statements

Darrel Ealum

Darrel Ealum

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Carol Fullerton

ALBANY — With primary runoffs less than a week away, Dougherty County voters can expect to see a light ballot next Tuesday.

In the Dougherty Democratic runoff, voters can expect to see a maximum of three races — Georgia House 153 between incumbent Carol Fullerton and challenger Darrell Ealum in 14 of 28 precincts; the Dougherty District 6 board of Education contest between Dean Phinazee and Princess Milledge in five precincts; and the State School Superintendent runoff between Alisha Morgan and Valarie Wilson.

The Republican ballot will feature just two statewide races, the U.S. Senate runoff between Jack Kingston and David A. Perdue and the State School Superintendent runoff between Mike Buck and Richard Woods.

Not only will the runoff ballot be light, the Georgia Secretary of State’s office is forecasting a low voter turnout of around 8 percent.

Dougherty County Elections Supervisor Ginger Nickerson said Wednesday that the county currently has just under 50,000 registered voters.

Lee County Elections Supervisor Veronica Johnson said there were no local races on the county ballot.

The House 153 race is expected to be tight. Financial reports filed with the state on June 30 show Fullerton with $57,944 in contributions (the largest being two $1,000 contributions from Albany attorney Tommy Malone) and $54,277 in expenditures.

Ealum shows just $1,150 in contributions (the largest being $300 from Bobby McKinney), but the candidate had two loans of $20,000 each to his campaign earlier this month. He lists $46,714 in expenses.

“Most of the money (Fullerton) is getting is coming from PACs and lobbyists in Atlanta who are wining and dining her,” Ealum said. “That tells me she owes her allegiance to the PACs and lobbyists in Atlanta and not the people of Dougherty County. My money was earned in Dougherty County and my allegiance in the House will be to the people of Dougherty County.”

“I have never taken money from a lobbyist or a PAC. In fact, during my four years on the school board I have returned all of my salary and travel expenses to the school system and used my own health care benefits saving the system more than $40,000.”

Fullerton began her first term as state representative in January 2009 and has served on five committees: Health & Human Services, Higher Education, Natural Resources & Environment, Economic Development & Tourism and Utilities, Telecommunications & Energy.

“A $130 steak from Morton’s is all (Ealum) has talked about for weeks, maybe it’s because he’s never had one,” Fullerton said. “I probably get less from lobbyists and PACs than any House member in Atlanta. I don’t ask for anything. What Darrel doesn’t seem to understand is working with lobbyists is part of the system. You have to meet with then and figure out who to trust. Some are good, some are scoundrels. Many provide good information, but you have to know who to trust.”

She then took aim at Ealum’s disclosure report.

“Ealum has been subject to fines fines and penalties for late filings. In fact he was in arrears prior to qualifying for this race,” Fullerton said. “He also pays his campaign workers in cash and does not list them on his report. That’s an ethics violation.”