The Republican candidate for an open state Senate seat in northwest Georgia filed for bankruptcy in 2013, claiming more than $8,000 in credit card expenses and another $3,390 consumer bank loan in debt.
Former Whitfield County GOP chair Chuck Payne said in the Chapter 7 bankruptcy court filing in June 2013 that he had less than $100,000 in assets. Payne faces ex-Whitfield commissioner Debby Peppers in the Jan. 10 runoff. Georgia GOP leaders have rallied around Payne, while Democrats are backing Peppers, who is running without party affiliation.
Payne a retired juvenile court probation officer, said in a statement his financial struggles give him a unique perspective of Georgia’s economic needs.
“Like many hard working northwest Georgians, my family struggled greatly during the recession. Our local economy impacts us directly, times were tough and we did what we had to do to get through it,” said Payne. “I’m running for office to give a voice to those who often feel like they don’t have one.”
He has the unabashed backing of much of the Republican establishment, including Gov. Nathan Deal’s administration. Deal’s chief of staff Chris Riley reinforced that support on Thursday.
The relatively ho-hum affair to replace Republican Charlie Bethel – tapped last month for a judgeship – has turned into a closely-watched race.
The Democratic Party of Georgia on Wednesday said it was investigating whether Republicans were intentionally seeking to suppress votes in the conservative Dalton-based district after mailers advertising the incorrect date of a special Senate election showed up at the home of several North Georgia Democrats.
The GOP operative behind the mailers said it was an honest mistake and that neither candidate was involved in the mailing.