Colton Moore, Dade's youthful representative in the statehouse, has announced his candidacy to succeed District 14 U.S. Congressman Tom Graves.
In a conditional-tense-laden announcement issued via Globe Newswire, a press release distribution service, Moore, 25, said he was "strongly considering" running for the seat in the U.S. House of Representative Graves will be vacating at the end of 2020. Graves announced last week he would not seek reelection. Moore's intentions, from the tenor of his release, appear to hinge on what support he receives from constituents.
"If our community believes this is the right next step, it would be my job to find a fearless Representative to continue moving District 1 forward. Someone like Dr. David Bosshart of Walker County, I believe, could do very well for us in this position. Only then would it be possible to take part in the incredible honor of expanding our freedoms and economic progress in Washington with one of the greatest visionaries our country has even seen, President Donald Trump,” Moore concluded.
Moore won the District 1 Georgia House seat, which includes Dade and part of Walker counties, in 2018 at the age of 24, ousting incumbent John Deffenbaugh in the May Republican primary. State representatives serve two-year terms, and Moore recently announced he would seek reelection for the seat in 2020--after Deffenbaugh announced his own intention to try to win it back.
Moore had made part of his campaign platform reforming Dade's so-called 65/5 tax exemption, which allows residents 65 and older to exclude from the school part--the lion's share--of the county real estate tax their homes of whatever value along with up to five acres. The local school board maintains this exemption is strangling Dade's schools. Moore allied himself with the school board, promising to bring a bill reforming 65/5 before the Georgia Legislature in 2019.
The reform as originally proposed would have added a five-year residency requirement to the exemption and capped it at $150,000 of value, grandfathering in those who were already claiming the exemption. Voters were to have a crack at saying yes or no to the changes in a public referendum.
But in February, Moore dropped the value cap part of the amendment at the first sign of protest from taxpayers, earning himself a pointed rebuff from the school board members he'd betrayed. He then tried to push the residency requirement part of the bill through the Georgia legislature and publicly blamed Georgia Sen. Jeff Mullis for its failure. Mullis in turn said it was Moore's own fault for "his inexperience and lack of listening to people."
And in fact, Moore as he arrived in the Georgia House made it a point to portray himself as a dissenting voice disinclined to listen to his elders. He issued press releases calling for Speaker of the House David Ralston to resign and voted against naming a public building in honor of former Gov. Nathan Deal. After the 65/5 debacle, though, he subsided from the enfant terrible approach and instead leapt piously aboard the heartbeat anti-abortion bill movement then popular with Southern Republican legislators.
Since then: Nothing. Moore has made no public appearances in Dade since the election and, before this congressional quasi-announcement, has not issued even a press release since the heartbeat one in March. His website homepage claims,
"Since November 2018 we have accomplished an incredible amount for our district. More progress has been made in this time for the people of Dade and Walker Counties than any other point in time since 2010."
--but does not supply specifics.
In 2018, it was Dade's overwhelming support that got Moore his seat in the Georgia statehouse. He beat Deffenbaugh 2,184 to 1,858 overall but in Dade the vote was 1436 votes to Deffenbaugh's 721. But will Dade now turn out to support for the U.S. Congress its boyish homeboy who has not, frankly, turned out much to support Dade?
That question is one of many that are already turning 2020 into an interesting election year.
Note: Dade election official Lowanna Vaughn confirmed that all candidate announcements are unofficial so far--qualifying does not open until March.