Some local and state leaders admitted they were surprised by District 14 U.S. Rep. Tom Graves’ announcement Dec. 5 he was not seeking re-election in 2020 to a sixth term.

Paulding County Republican Party Chairman Nancy Hollingshed said she “appreciated all he’s done for the 14th District” since Graves began representing it.

“This is a big surprise,” she said.

Hollingshed said she did not want to speculate about who would be candidates for the position.

“We’re anxious to see who will step up,” she said.

Candidates must qualify by March 6 for the May 19 Republican and Democratic primary elections for the congressional seat.

However, the 12-county congressional district is heavily Republican and the winner of the GOP primary typically wins the general election.

Two Paulding residents who quickly ruled themselves out of the race to replace Graves were District 67 State Rep. Micah Gravley, R-Douglasville; and Virginia Galloway, both of whom were mentioned as possible candidates by area Republicans.

Galloway said she prefers working in her current job as regional field director for the Faith and Freedom Coalition rather than serving in Congress.

“Honestly, I love what I’m doing,” she said.

It also would conflict with husband Darrell’s role as 14th Congressional District chairman of the Georgia Republican Party, Galloway said.

Gravley had previous experience on a congressional staff as district field director for former U.S. Rep. Bob Barr from 1998 to 2001.

He said he received encouragement from friends and supporters but wanted to spend time with his family rather than seeking election to the seat representing 12 northwest Georgia counties in the U.S. House of Representatives.

“After much consideration, paired with family discussions and prayer, (wife) Heather and I have determined that the best place for me to be and where I’m needed most, is at home with our girls,” Gravley said.

He also said he wanted to continue working as a member of the Georgia House of Representatives, where he serves in a leadership role in the House Majority Caucus and is in his fourth term representing parts of Paulding and Douglas counties.

However, Alpharetta businesswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene is considering a run for Graves’ seat rather than a nearby district, the Rome News Tribune reported.

Greene has declared her candidacy for the GOP nomination in the 6th Congressional District against former congresswoman Karen Handel.

District 14 residents and sitting members of Congress are urging Greene -- a Christian conservative -- to move her campaign to the northwest Georgia district.

A campaign official told the Rome newspaper Greene would move to the 14th district if she decides to run for the seat.

The Rome newspaper and other area news sources said speculation also was centering around Paulding County School Board member Jason Anavitarte; Georgia Lottery Corp. President and CEO Gretchen Corbin of Rome; and some Floyd County state lawmakers, including District 52 State Sen. Chuck Hufstetler, R-Rome; District 13 State Rep. Katie Dempsey, R-Rome; and District 12 State Rep. Eddie Lumsden, R-Armuchee.

However, none responded to questions or confirmed they definitely planned to run for the congressional seat.

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