Five Republican candidates hoping to become Georgia's next governor will be in Statesboro May 7 to participate in a candidate forum organized by the Statesboro Herald.
Five of the seven announced Republican candidates who are vying to replace Gov. Sonny Perdue are committed to the forum - former U.S. Congressman Nathan Deal, former Secretary of State Karen Handel, former Georgia Senate president Eric Johnson, Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine and State Representative Austin Scott. Perdue cannot seek a third term under state law.
The public is invited to the free forum, which is scheduled for 7 p.m. inside the new auditorium of Statesboro High School. The forum will be moderated by Joe McGlamery, president of the Statesboro Herald. A "meet and greet" with all the candidates will take place prior to the event in the cafeteria area of the school.
"It's a fascinating election that is wide open with many qualified candidates," said Jim Healy, executive editor of the Statesboro Herald. "We thought it would serve the residents of Bulloch County and the surrounding area well to have a chance to hear from the candidates in person. We're grateful to the Bulloch County Republican Party for helping us pull the forum together."
The Herald will broadcast the forum live on the Internet at both www.statesboroherald.com and www.BoroLive.com. Also, Georgia Eagle Media will air the forum live on two of their radio stations - WWNS 1240 AM and WHKN 94.9 FM.
Statesboro High Principal Marty Waters said he was proud of the new facilities at Statesboro High and that the forum would showcase all the amenities the new school has to offer. Bulloch County Superintendent of Schools Lewis Holloway said the community has financially committed to building quality, modern public school facilities and said the forum would highlight that commitment.
The Bulloch County Republicans will host a candidate "Meet and Greet" before the forum in the SHS cafeteria. Bulloch County GOP Chairman Lawton Sack said the event is a great chance to speak one-on-one with many of the statewide candidates.
"The purpose of the meet and greet is to allow the people of Bulloch County an opportunity to talk with statewide and congressional candidates. Every Republican statewide candidate has been invited and the local candidates and officials will be invited as well," Sack said. "We are definitely excited and thankful to the Statesboro Herald for putting together the forum. We think it's going to wonderful for the entire party and county."
Chris Blair, market manager for Georgia Eagle Media, didn't hesitate to offer radio listeners a chance to tune in to the forum. With the governor not able to run for an additional term and with such a large number of candidates seeking office, Blair said there's good reason for interest in the governor's race.
"It's going to be a closely watched and closely followed election," Blair said. "It's part of our job to help get the word out, help get the information out, so voters can make an informed decision on which candidate will best do the job."
During the forum, each candidate will be given the opportunity to deliver an opening and closing statement. In between, the moderator will ask questions submitted by the audience on three-by-five cards before the forum.
Deal recently resigned his congressional seat in Georgia's 9th district in order to run for governor. He said with all of his family ties to Bulloch County that he is especially looking forward to the Statesboro debate.
"As the birthplace of both of my parents, Statesboro is a special place to me and I am especially excited about this debate," Deal said. "I look forward to a great discussion of the issues that are facing our state."
Handel also resigned her Secretary of State position late last year to concentrate on the highly contested race.
"I am very excited to be coming back to Statesboro and am looking forward to the debate," Handel said. "We have a lot of great supporters in the area and I hope everyone can make it to the event."
Candidate qualifying for state or federal office starts April 26 and ends April 30. The primary election for all Georgia candidates is Tuesday, July 20.