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Bannister loads up on legislator endorsements

Charles Bannister hit the equivalent of a home run for Gwinnett County politics, when he drew the endorsement of popular U.S. Rep. John Linder.

But this week the county chairman has flashed even more political muscle during his Republican primary race, drawing support from 10 local legislators.

Bannister will host a meet-and-greet with his campaign supporters Friday, hosted by Linder and Georgia Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner John Oxendine, both Republicans from Duluth.

Also on the invitation are state Sens. Don Balfour, R-Snellville, and Dan Weber, R-Dunwoody, along with Reps. Tom Rice of Norcross, Bobby Reese of Sugar Hill, Mike Coan of Lawrenceville, Clay Cox of Lilburn, Melvin Everson of Snellville, John Heard of Lawrenceville, David Casas of Lilburn, Len Walker of Loganville and Robert Mumford of Conyers. Only two local Republican House members were not on the invitation, and Bannister said he was not able to contact those two before the invitations were printed.

"I appreciate them. It's going to be a good thing," said Bannister, who is seeking a second term. He faces Commissioner Lorraine Green and Buford man Glenn Pirkle in the Republican primary.

More than 600 invitations went out to business leaders and supporters for the event at the Loganville home of Dr. Marc Unterman, ex-husband of Sen. Renee Unterman.

"It's a good houseful, and we're pleased they are going to help," Bannister said.

But Cox fell short of endorsing Bannister.

"I think 'em both. ... I think Charlie has done a great job as chairman. I think Lorraine has been a great commissioner," Cox said. "I have been told too many times in my Republican primaries, 'I'm going to stay out of your race.' I'm just going to help Republicans. I'll help any Republican that's trying to go through this tedious, tiring process of running for office."

Cox is unopposed for reelection this year, but he's already thinking about 2010. He said he is considering a run for secretary of state, if incumbent Karen Handel runs for governor.

"We need to continue to have a strong pro-business conservative in that position," Cox said. "The secretary of state can play a pivotal role in getting companies in (Georgia)."

Cox said he is "uniquely qualified" for the office, since he's a business owner himself.

"I've certainly given it some thought," he said of the 2010 race. "Karen's got to make her decision, and then we'll make ours."

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.