After slimming down a bit, the field of Republican hopefuls vying for the nomination for the northern Georgia seat being vacated by GOP Rep. Nathan Deal is growing.
Blairsville cardiologist Chris Cates announced Thursday that he was joining the crowded field, and he enters the race touting an impressive fundraising start.
Cates said in a release that he’s already raised $277,000 for his campaign, a total that would instantly place him in the top tier of fundraisers in the race.
Cates’ announcement comes just over a week after former state Rep. Mike Evans (R) announced he was ending his bid for Deal’s seat. In a district that gave Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) his fifth-largest winning percentage of the 2008 cycle — he took 75 percent of the vote in the northwest Georgia district — the GOP primary will be the election that decides who replaces Deal, who is running for governor next year.
Other Republicans in the race are state Sen. Lee Hawkins, state Rep. Tom Graves and former state Sen. Bill Stephens.
Deal is staying out of the race to replace him.
The July primary is crowded enough to make an August runoff likely.