Former Dougherty County Commissioner Muarlean Edwards completes paperwork Monday qualifying her to run for the state House District 153 seat at the secretary of state’s office in Atlanta. Edwards and Darrel Ealum will challenge incumbent Carol Fullerton in the Democratic primary May 20. (Special photo)
ATLANTA — The state House District 153 race is officially on today, after Democratic incumbent Carol Fullerton and her two announced opponents — Darrel Ealum and Muarlean Edwards — qualified Monday to seek the seat.
Qualifying for state races is being conducted at Secretary of State Brian Kemp’s office at the state Capitol.
“I’m excited to announce that I will be making a run — a serious run — for the House 153 seat,” Edwards said in a phone call from the Capitol. She said earlier when officially announcing her candidacy that family personal issues kept her from devoting her full attention to her race against Fullerton in 2012. “I’m in it to win it this time,” she said Monday.
Fullerton recently returned to the state Legislature after missing much of the session due to complications from a serious automobile accident late last year that kept her hospitalized and incapacitated until getting medical clearance to return to the Capitol last week.
District 152 Rep. Ed Rynders, a Leesburg Republican whose district no longer includes portions of Dougherty County after redistricting, also qualified to return to the House. Rynders, who reportedly considered a run for the Senate District 13 seat being vacated by Sen. John Crosby of Tifton, has so far drawn no opposition. Fellow Republican Gerald Greene qualified for the House District 151 seat, while Democrat Winfred Dukes qualified for the House 154 seat.
Incumbents Greene and Dukes so far have no opposition.
Bryce Johnson of Sylvester qualified Monday to run for Crosby’s vacated seat. Greg Kirk of Sumter County also has announced plans to seek Crosby’s seat, but has not yet qualified.
While candidates were going through the qualifying paces at the secretary of state’s office Monday, a “non-qualification” stirred up political followers in Southwest Georgia. An erroneous media report that District 12 Senate incumbent Freddie Powell Sims was stepping down from her seat fueled rumors that Dougherty County Commission Chairman Jeff Sinyard, who announced in late January that he will leave that post at the end of the year, was set to qualify for the District 12 seat.
Sinyard laughed at the speculation before Monday’s commission meeting.
“I will admit that I’ve had more than a few phone calls,” he said. “But that is not going to happen. First of all, I fully expect Sen. Sims to run and return to her seat. And, secondly, I intend to work hard the rest of this year to finish my time on this board. I’ll admit that I have thought about running (for state office) in the past, but the timing has not been right.”
Contacted early Monday on the Senate floor, Sims said, “I am planning on running again.” True to her word, she qualified for re-election later in the day.
Other state offices up for re-election during the 2014 election cycle are governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, attorney general, commissioners of agriculture and insurance, state school superintendent, two Public Service Commission seats and commissioner of labor.
Terry Lewis contributed to this article.