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Cox gets endorsement; Woodruff pushes for commuter rail

Rep. Clay Cox already has a big start to his re-election campaign.

The Lilburn Republican had a fundraiser kick-off earlier this month, where he not only raised $8,850, but he got a key endorsement, as well.

In fact, it's the first endorsement County Commissioner Mike Beaudreau has ever given.

"This is one race I feel very passionate about," Beaudreau said. "I think he (Cox) has been a great servant for Gwinnett County."

Cox is facing a challenge in the Republican primary from local activist Woody Woodruff.

Cox said he was thrilled about the endorsement as well as the event, which was attended by House Majority Caucus Chair Sharon Cooper of Marietta, Rep. Donna Sheldon of Dacula, Sen. Ronnie Chance of Tyrone and developer Emory Morsberger.

The Brain Train

Woodruff hasn't alerted us to any endorsements he's received yet, but on Friday he made quite an endorsement.

As a member of the citizens project selection committee for sales tax transportation dollars, Woodruff made a motion Friday for the panel to show support for the "Brain Train."

Morsberger, a mastermind of lobbying for the Atlanta-to-Athens rail line, asked for the panel to show support for the passenger train idea, since it has the potential to take thousands of cars off the roads between Atlanta and Athens.

In the end, Woodruff withdrew his motion from the table.

While all the members nodded in support of the idea, one said he wasn't ready to vote on the proposal since he didn't have enough specifics, and another was concerned that the endorsement could confuse citizens, since no sales tax dollars will go to the project.

The panel may take up the idea at a later meeting.

Gubernatorial issue

Morsberger and his fellow commuter-rail enthusiasts are worried that language inserted into next year's state budget by the General Assembly will slow down planning for the Atlanta-to-Athens line.

The provision prohibits the state from spending money on commuter-rail projects without legislative approval, which means little can be done before lawmakers convene for the 2007 session next winter.

Morsberger and other Gwinnett business and political leaders urged Gov. Sonny Perdue to veto the provision, but he left it in when he signed the budget last week.

That decision quickly drew fire from Secretary of State Cathy Cox, who is seeking the Democratic nomination to challenge Perdue this fall.

"With the stroke of a pen, Sonny Perdue could have used his line-item veto to remove this vague and unnecessary provision that is potentially devastating to our efforts to ease traffic congestion for all Georgians,'' Cox said in a written statement.

Cox also criticized the way the provision got into the budget, on the last day of the legislative session without input from or even the knowledge of most lawmakers.

"It's yet another example of the old-style politics that is holding our state back,'' she said.

Perdue spokesman Shane Hix said the governor declined to veto the provision out of respect for the Legislature's right to have a say on such major projects as commuter rail.

Staff Writer Dave Williams contributed to this report.

Political Notebook appears in the Thursday and Sunday editions of the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Camie Young can be reached via e-mail at camie.young@gwinnettdailypost.com.