State Sen. Ralph Hudgens (R) has taken himself out of the 10th district special election contest, a move that further solidifies state Sen. Jim Whitehead (R) as the frontrunner to succeed the late Rep. Charlie Norwood (R).
“After three weeks of campaigning, it became very evident that I don’t have the fire in the belly, I didn’t have what it takes,” Hudgens said, according to The Augusta Chronicle.
Hudgens, who has run unsuccessfully for Congress three times before, was the best-known of several candidates from the Athens area who had declared their intention to run. He would have been forced to give up his state legislative seat to run in the special election.
Whitehead, who is the only well-known candidate in the race from the Augusta area, has surrounded himself with much of Norwood’s political apparatus.
Hudgens’ departure leaves Whitehead as the best-known candidate in the field, although former Athens Mayor Doc Eldridge still is mulling a run. Eldridge was a Democrat when he served as mayor, but he indicated that he would become a Republican if he ran for the House.
The all-party special election is scheduled for June 19. If no candidate receives more than 50 percent of the vote, a runoff will be held on July 17.
A qualifying date will be set after the end of the state legislative session late next month. Any legislator who decides to run for the House seat will be forced to resign from the Legislature after qualifying for the Congressional race.
— Lauren W. Whittington