Five candidates vie to replace Porter

The race to replace longtime state Rep. DuBose Porter in the Georgia House of Representatives has grown crowded in Dublin, with five candidates now planning to seek the seat.

This week, Dublin attorney and decorated Desert Storm veteran Dan King jumped into the race, becoming the fourth Democrat to do so. Porter, also a Democrat, is running for governor.

“I think anybody that’s running right now needs to be focused on the economy,” King said Wednesday. “We’ve also got to be able to fund state government without gutting education. If we’re gutting education, all we’re doing is hurting the future work force.”

King joins fellow Democrats Claudia Graham, Pablo Santamaria and Mitch Warnock in the race. Dublin City Councilman Matthew Hatchett is the only Republican who has announced an intention to run.

Graham is a political consultant who, like Hatchett, got into the race last spring. Santamaria is a doctor at Middle Georgia Urology Associates, as well as an associate professor at Emory University in Atlanta, he said.

“Top priority is jobs. Jobs and education,” Santamaria said. “And I feel that they’re inter-related. Economic growth happens through growth in education.”

Warnock is an attorney. His mother is a retired teacher, and his father is a retired school administrator. Like other candidates in the race, Warnock said education is a top priority. He took to task the state’s current leadership, which is dominated by the Republican Party, over education funding levels.

“Five years ago we were talking about lengthening the school year because our children were falling behind,” Warnock said Wednesday. “And now we’re furloughing teachers and talking about shortening the school year.”

Santamaria noted that he’d be one of only two doctors in the state Legislature if elected, which he sees as a boon.

“I’d be able to speak on approximately a third of the budget (health care) in a fashion most other people could not,” he said.

The primaries for state legislative races are scheduled for July 20, with the general election set for Nov. 2. The deadline to register to vote in the primaries is June 21.

Candidates must formally qualify for office in April.

To contact writer Travis Fain, call 361-2702.