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Not seeking re-election this year is 'proper thing ... to do,' midstate lawmaker says

State Rep. Bubber Epps, R-Dry Branch, pictured in the state House in Atlanta on Tuesday, says he won't run for re-election this year.
State Rep. Bubber Epps, R-Dry Branch, pictured in the state House in Atlanta on Tuesday, says he won't run for re-election this year. The Telegraph

Even for folks who don’t follow politics that closely, the name “Bubber” draws interest.

Bubber Epps of Twiggs County sits in the state Legislature — but not for much longer. He's not running for re-election, and he quotes the Bible in explaining why.

“I tell everyone Scripture says to everything there is a season. I feel like it is just the time and the proper thing for me to do,” said Epps, who was first sworn in in 2009.

“When I came to the Legislature, I kind of set myself a 10-year goal, and I've reached that,” said Epps, whose district covers all or part of seven counties, mostly rural areas east of Macon.

Name aside, there’s something else Southern about Epps’ political career. He, like many a longtime rural white Republican, started his elected career as a Democrat. He switched to the GOP just in time for the 2011 legislative session, much later than folks like now-Gov. Nathan Deal.

It might have made some Democrats angry, but the switch put Epps in the room with the party that controls the Legislature. It was a savvy move for someone who wants to focus on getting things done in Atlanta for the home folks and smoothing what sometimes can be tense relations between the state and its counties.

Asked about his accomplishments, he named the kinds of things meant to get local government moving better. That is, things like helping get Macon-Bibb government consolidation passed, getting a rail siding and various road works done in his district.

Epps is a retired paving contractor from Dry Branch, and he was on the Twiggs County Commission for 10 years. His departure from the Legislature will open up a committee chairmanship, the state House Motor Vehicles.

His advice for whoever succeeds him?

“Be a good listener," he said. "I think you need the pulse of the people that you ask to vote for you.”

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