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Wife and husband running for state's top jobs

ATLANTA -- Georgia now has a married couple running for the state's two highest offices, as the wife of gubernatorial candidate DuBose Porter announced Thursday she is planning her own campaign for lieutenant governor.

Carol Porter is the first Democrat to enter the race for the state's second-highest office. If she draws no primary opposition -- or if she wins a contested primary -- she will face off against Republican incumbent Casey Cagle in November.

Flanked by her four adult sons and her husband, Porter pledged to be an honest, hardworking voice for Georgians.

''I have been presented with a unique opportunity to serve at a unique period in Georgia's history,'' Porter told reporters at a press conference Thursday to announce her candidacy. ''Politics as usual will not solve the problems Georgia is facing today.''

Her husband quickly added: ''If you truly want family values in Georgia, elect a Georgia family.''

The novelty of a husband and wife hitting the campaign trail is sure to generate buzz around Georgia, as the couple takes their message to the voters. Observers said such a combination is rare -- maybe even unprecedented -- in American politics. Janet Huckabee ran an unsuccessful campaign for Arkansas secretary of state in 2002, the same year that her husband, Gov. Mike Huckabee, was re-elected.

DuBose Porter of Dublin is a longtime Democrat and is serving as House minority leader. His campaign has struggled to raise money against former Gov. Roy Barnes, largely seen as the Democratic front-runner.

In January, after Carol Porter wowed audiences as a stand-in for her husband at an event, some began to ask if she might run for office herself.

Ryan Cassin, campaign manager for Cagle, said Thursday, ''We welcome Carol Porter to the race and look forward to seeing her on the campaign trail. We anticipate a spirited contest and a thoughtful discussion of the issues.''

The Porters' dual campaigns could raise DuBose Porter's political profile in a five-way primary race while providing free publicity for both candidates. In addition to ex-governor Barnes, DuBose Porter faces Attorney General Thurbert Baker, former adjutant general David Poythress and Ray City Mayor Carl Camon in the Democratic primary race for governor.

Carol Porter said that she had never considered her own foray into elected office until a few weeks ago, but became concerned when no other Democrats emerged to challenge Cagle in the fall.

Carol Porter has run her husband's campaigns for nearly three decades, but is a newcomer as a candidate for elected office. She manages the couple's newspaper publishing business and said she has seen up close the economy's effects on average Georgians.

''I have heard your voices and I have come to realize ... people are hungry for someone who cares, someone who will put their interest first,'' she said. ''Together we can make Georgia's government work for you and not against you,'' she said.

Carol Porter said she plans to campaign separately from her husband, though they share the same message. And while there may not be an ethical conflict, the thought of a husband and wife presiding over two separate branches of government could be an issue for some, said University of Georgia political scientist Charles Bullock.

''There could be a concern that as the leader of the Senate, she might compromise the independence of the Legislature,'' Bullock said. ''It might put some voters off.''