Balfour unsure of re-election

SNELLVILLE -- A day after deciding against a race for Congress, Gwinnett's senior state senator said he is unsure if he will seek re-election for his Snellville-based seat.

Don Balfour announced late Thursday he would suspend his congressional race less than three weeks after it began.

Although he would love to be a congressman, he said, "I just didn't have the fire in my belly to do all the fighting."

Balfour said he would decide by the upcoming qualifying period in the coming weeks if he would try to continue his 18-year tenure in the Georgia Senate, where he now heads the powerful Rules Committee.

The political fight over the past few weeks, since U.S. Rep. John Linder's surprise announcement he would retire from office, has been brutal, and Balfour said the stress of trying to be a leader in the state's grueling process to cut billions from the budget has been too much.

"It got very frustrating," he said, pointing to a quick political response over higher education funding when he said budget cuts may drive a tuition increase. "In the past two weeks, I haven't been sleeping well. ... I've lost a lot of weight. ... I just don't have a peace about it."

At least one candidate -- state Rep. David Casas of Lilburn -- has declared he would seek Balfour's 9th District Senate seat. Balfour said he would speak to him and other candidates before making his decision on re-election.

As for the congressional race, Balfour's decision leaves state Rep. Clay Cox as the frontrunner over Walton County businessman Tom Kirby in the July Republican primary. But it could mean that other politicians enter the race.

Just like Linder's surprise decision, Balfour's move could cause several dominoes to fall.