A year ago, Republican Houston Gaines was the University of Georgia’s student government president. Now he has the fast-track for an open Athens-based seat in the Georgia Legislature.
Gaines was the sole Republican to qualify for the conservative-leaning seat after former state Rep. Doug McKillip decided not to run for the seat vacated by Regina Quick after she was tapped to a judgeship.
Democrat Deborah Gonzalez, an attorney and former administrator, is in the running as well, but she has her work cut out for her. The district is so conservative that Quick has never faced a general election opponent since ousting McKillip from the seat in 2012.
Gaines is something of a political prodigy. At 19, he was Athens Mayor Nancy Denson’s campaign manager. Two years later, he won the vote at UGA to become student body president. We’re told he’s quickly consolidated local GOP support; campaign disclosures show he’s raised at least $66,000.
Even if he wins in November, he may not be out of the woods. McKillip, a former Democrat who switched to the GOP in 2010, told Flagpole not to count him out. “Said I’d run in ’18, not ’17,” he told the Athens publication. “We’ll see.”
Side note: Another, slightly older, former UGA student president is also making a bid for an open House seat. Democrat Sachin Varghese, an attorney, is one of four Democrats aiming for the Atlanta-based seat long held by former state Rep. Stacey Abrams.