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Greg Bluestein

Another legacy Democrat joins party’s 2014 hunt

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030714 qualifying democrats

Chris Irvin, grandson of longtime state Agriculture Commissioner Tommy Irvin, was a last-minute Democratic candidate for the position. Brant Sanderlin, bsanderlin@ajc.com

Add another famous Democratic surname to the mix in November’s election.

Chris Irvin, the grandson of former Agricultural Commissioner Tommy Irvin, qualified Friday to seek his grandpa’s old seat. The elder Irvin was somewhat of a Democratic legend in Georgia, serving as the state’s top ag official for more than four decades until he decided not to run again in 2010.

Irvin becomes the third descendant of a famous Democrat to seek their forefathers’ posts.

Jason Carter formally qualified this week to run against Gov. Nathan Deal, following in the footsteps of his grandfather, former President Jimmy Carter, who was governor before moving to the White House. And nonprofit executive Michelle Nunn, daughter of former U.S. Sen. Sam Nunn, is seeking an open U.S. Senate seat.

The younger Irvin is a 39-year-old homebuilder from Toccoa who waged an unsuccessful campaign for a state House seat in 2010. He said Agriculture Secretary Gary Black, a Republican seeking a second term, has created a “dangerous situation” for farmers because of his background as a lobbyist.

“He’s out of touch with our small farms and I think it’s time we restored honesty and integrity to the seat of the commission,” said Irvin.

Irvin rounds out a full slate of Democratic candidates for statewide offices recruited by party chair DuBose Porter, who took the helm of the state party last year. The rest of the ticket features several former state lawmakers and a small-town mayor seeking to oust incumbents.

Irvin notes that he’s the same age his grandfather was when then-Gov. Lester Maddox appointed him to the agricultural post. But, echoing the younger Carter, he says “I am not my grandfather.”

“I learned the value of hard work. I grew up in the gas station business and started work when I was 13 years old,” he said. “Our family has been very blessed with the service of my grandfather. But I don’t have politicians hands. DuBose called me the day before yesterday and I was in my tool belt, working on a 100-year-old building.”

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