Photo by Michael Buckelew
By Camie Young
LAWRENCEVILLE -- A month after putting politics on hold and shunting a race for his dream job, Snellville state Sen. Don Balfour is back on the campaign trail.
Balfour announced Friday he would seek the District 9 Senate seat he has held for nearly two decades.
"I would like to thank my family, friends and devoted supporters who reached out to me and encouraged me to continue leading and making a difference in the lives of Georgians by seeking re-election for the 9th District Senate seat," he said in a statement. "I have spent many nights worrying about the safety of my son in Afghanistan and the future of our country at home. There is still much to be done and I simply cannot continue to make the changes that Americans need from the sidelines. In times like these, what our state needs most is a dedicated, seasoned leader who will stand up for what's right and put Georgia back on the road to economic recovery and prosperity."
For a few weeks in March, Balfour was considered the lead candidate to replace U.S. Rep. John Linder, who made a surprise retirement announcement at the end of February.
Then Balfour made his own surprise move, dropping out of the congressional race and leaving in question his role in the Senate, where he currently serves as chairman of the powerful Rules Committee.
"I just didn't have the fire in my belly to do all the fighting," Balfour said at the time, adding that he did not have a peace about the situation. He also said he wanted to prepare for his son's return from Afghanistan. Trey Balfour, a student at Georgia Gwinnett College, recently completed his deployment.
The latest news brings into question again a number of legislative races.
State Rep. David Casas, R-Lilburn, had gained a lot of momentum in a race to take over Balfour's seat, and businessman Steve Ramey even got the Atlanta TEA Party's endorsement this week in his race for Casas' House seat.
While Casas did not respond to the new twist Friday, Balfour made it clear that he had formidable backing from Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, Senate President Pro Tem Tommie Williams and Majority Leader Chip Rogers.
"We are extremely pleased to hear the news that Senator Balfour has decided to run for re-election in order to continue serving the good folks of Gwinnett County," said Cagle, who is from Gainesville. "As the longest serving Republican in the Senate, his experienced leadership can be counted on and has been an asset to the entire Senate body. He has led the efforts to lower property taxes, enact tort reform and strengthen immigration and eminent domain laws and he can count on my support."
Rogers and Williams said Balfour's leadership was needed to help the state through its budget crisis.
"When leaders such as Sen. Balfour decide to continue their service to Georgia, we all win," Williams said.