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Connie Stokes announces run for governor in 2014

Ken Watts | 9/6/2013, 6:08 a.m.
Former commissioner and State Sen. Connie Stokes, shown here at her farewell party, left DeKalb government in 2010.

Connie Stokes, who was DeKalb’s Super District 7 commissioner for six years and a state senator for a decade, is now eyeing the Governor’s Mansion.

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Connie Stokes

Stokes, 60, says she will run for governor of Georgia in 2014.

“I feel like now is the time,” she said Tuesday after word leaked over the weekend that she plans to run for Georgia’s top office.

Since leaving the DeKalb Board of Commissioners in 2010, Stokes has been a business management consultant.

She is the first Democrat to join the field of challengers lining up against Gov. Nathan Deal. Republican challengers so far are Dalton Mayor David Pennington and state School Superintendent John Barge.

Stokes’ revelation on Aug. 31 at the Democratic State Committee meeting in Newnan came a little earlier than she had intended because of questions from reporters covering more than 200 delegates who elected former state Rep. DuBose Porter as the party’s new chairman.

She says she will make a formal announcement in the next few weeks.

Stokes says she is eminently qualified to run.

During her 10 years at the State Capitol, she served as floor leader for former Gov. Roy Barnes and chaired the Health and Human Services Committee.

Stokes, who lives in Lithonia, plans to campaign on improving education and creating high-paying jobs.

“What I hear from a lot of people is that they want open and honest government,” she said. “They want people who represent their voice and that’s what I have been doing.”

Stokes said health care will be a key issue during the campaign and that Deal’s decision not to create a Georgia exchange where customers can shop for insurance under President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act will prove to be a political liability in the campaign.

She said that Democrats can’t stand on the sidelines.

“We need a Democratic agenda, one that will create jobs that pay well, that focuses on our children and promotes a transparent and open government,” she said.

After serving in the state Senate, Stokes ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 2004, losing to Cynthia McKinney in the primary.

She recovered to win a seat on the DeKalb Board of Commissioners.

Senate Minority Leader Steve Henson (D-Tucker) said Stokes will be a knowledgeable and experienced candidate for governor with a strong background on the key issues of health care, education and job growth.

“Georgia has fallen from 25th to 40th in per capita income because people are earning less due to the policies of Governor Deal and the Republicans,” Henson said, hinting that Barge’s campaign, which is expected to criticize Deal on education funding, could be a benefit to Stokes’ candidacy.

“Bringing forth the governor’s lack of concern in improving public education will be helpful whether it’s from a Republican opponent or Democratic candidates,” he said.