Ethics Watchdog Bill Bozarth Makes Independent Run For Ed Lindsey’s Seat

July 18, 2014 16:00 pm

by Chet Martin · 6 comments

The former executive director of Common Cause Georgia, Bill Bozarth, has gathered enough signatures to qualify for the ballot in November. Though politicos will roll their eyes at the wisdom of his pledge not to accept donations over $250, it takes gumption to get signatures from 5% of registered voters in House District 54.  More on the HD 54 race can be found here.  The press release is below the fold. 

It’s official- Bill Bozarth, Independent candidate for House District 54 (Buckhead) is on the ballot for the General Election on November fourth. The campaign was notified late yesterday that the Fulton County Board of Elections and Georgia Secretary of State have certified Bozarth’s signature petition package.  

Independent candidates in the General Assembly are rare in Georgia. There were none on the ballot in November 2012. District voters now have a unique choice beyond the traditional Republican vs. Democrat.  

Bozarth notes his campaign is different. “I reject the concept that asks us to fall into partisan divisions when we choose elected leaders. Together with my supporters, we elected to do the hard work of gathering over 2,200 voter signatures to get on the ballot. I’l go into office reporting directly to the people without a layer in between. Republicans even have to sign a Loyalty Oath to run in their Primary. I would never do that. I’l serve the people of my district free of obligation to party leaders and free of big donor money influence…” 

Bozarth served as Common Cause Georgia’s Executive Director for eight years, advocating for transparency of government and stricter campaign finance laws, a stronger and more independent ethics commission, and for financial limitations on lobbyist and PAC influence. His campaign has been conducted in the same manner. Bozarth accepts no contributions from lobbyists and PACs and no individual personal contributions over $250.  

“Regardless of what we learn further about the recent scandal, it calls for a major overhaul,” said Bozarth. “I will take this on as a major legislative priority. As a state representative, I will set an example by voluntarily providing a regular report to my constituents on what I have received from anyone with something to gain on maters before the General Assembly.” Bozarth looks forward to the General Election and affirming that public office can be attained without the usual practice of signing on to parties and raising money through lobbyists and PACs.

If nothing else, this demonstrates that ethics activists think they’ve found a winning candidate in a down ballot race.

northside101 July 18, 2014 at 4:27 pm

“There were none (independent candidates) on the ballot in November 2012.”

Rep. Rusty Kidd might have a disagreement with that statement. He got 54% that year as an independent against Democrat Quentin Howell. His district #145 takes in all of Baldwin County (Milledgeville) and a portion of Putnam County to the north, and is politically marginal—splitting about evenly between Obama and Romney last time. No Democrat or Republican qualified for his seat this year so looks like he will continue to chair the “independent caucus” when the General Assembly returns to session in January.

1Timothy6:10 July 18, 2014 at 5:55 pm

You are right! @Northside101 We corrected it in subsequent press release sent statewide. Peach Pundit is too quick! Here is the revised text: “The campaign was notified late yesterday that the Fulton County Board of Elections and Georgia Secretary of State have certified Bozarth’s signature petition package. Independent candidates in the General Assembly are rare in Georgia. Only Incumbent, Rusty Kidd was on the ballot in 2012. No other independent candidates qualified. District voters in the Atlanta area now have a unique choice beyond the traditional Republican vs. Democrat.”

greencracker July 18, 2014 at 11:26 pm

Rusty Kidd is an institution unto himself. #PinkSeersucker

Scarlet Hawk July 19, 2014 at 10:01 am

Indeed, that he is.

objective July 19, 2014 at 9:30 pm

well, since mr. bozarth was the subject of the post- rather than mr. the kidd-
let me say that i believe independent runs should be supported, even if you’re loyal to a major party.
you may say that’s plausible so long as the candidate won’t really threaten a win for your candidate, but even then. because democracy is bigger than party, and you never know how a truly independent voice can help any policy or party evolve. it’s good exercise for every elected official and every voter, regardless.
fwiw, i believe bill is a true independent, and can help legislators and the legislature evolve. raise the bar a bit. and i think the district will support him well.

northside101 July 21, 2014 at 1:07 pm

Perhaps the only 3-way race in the State House or Senate this year? On paper, possibility of a December runoff. This district usually votes Republican (58% Romney in 1992 for instance), but interesting to see how Jason Carter and Michelle Nunn would fare here and whether they would have any coattails.

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