With the start of the official qualifying period still five days away, there are at least five openly gay candidates seeking seats in the Georgia General Assembly.

Gay ATL restaurant owner tries to unseat gay-friendly GOP lawmaker

After being disqualified for not meeting residency requirements in 2008, gay business owner Keith Gross is making a second attempt to unseat state Rep. Mike Jacobs (R-Atlanta) for the District 80 post in the Georgia House of Representatives.

Jacobs, viewed as one of the most gay-friendly Republicans in the state legislature, was originally elected as a Democrat for the DeKalb-based seat, but has been re-elected as a Republican.

The incumbent’s decision to switch parties will be in an issue in the new race, Gross, a Democrat, said on his website.

“I ran for this seat in 2008 because of my disappointment that Mike lied to all of us and switched from Democrat to Republican (after lying long enough to get elected),” Gross said on the site. “Just like you, I was surprised when I was kicked off the ballot through a clever legal maneuver, which I inadequately defended.

“This case was orchestrated by the Republican Party and Mike Jacobs because Mike didn’t want to face the issues and they didn’t want the voters of District 80 to have a choice on who represented them,” Gross charged.

Jacobs was endorsed by Georgia Equality, the state’s largest LGBT political group, in 2008. During this legislative session, he is the lead sponsor of a bill to curb bullying in schools. While the language of the bill does not single out sexual orientation, it is strongly backed by Georgia Equality and Jacobs has said that he was motivated to introduce the measure by the death of Jaheem Herrera. The DeKalb fifth grader killed himself last year; his parents claim he was the victim of relentless bullying, including being called “gay,” although a school system investigation disputed the charge.

Gross, the owner of Sprouts Green Cafe in Emory Village, will host a meet-and-greet on April 24 at his home in the Enclave at Briarcliff condominiums, according to his website.

There are now at least five openly gay candidates running for seats in the Georgia General Assembly. Incumbent state Rep. Karla Drenner (D-Avondale Estates), Georgia’s first openly gay state lawmaker, is seeking a sixth term;  state Rep. Simone Bell (D-Atlanta), the first openly lesbian African-American state legislator in the nation, seeks her first full term after winning a special election last fall to finish the term of Robin Shipp, who resigned the seat when it conflicted with her employment.

Gay Athens resident Tim Riley, a Democrat, is running for State Senate District 47, after losing his 2008 bid for the seat to Republican Ralph Hudgens.

Libertarian Brad Ploeger is challenging Rep. Margaret Kaiser (D-Atlanta) for House District 59, Project Q Atlanta reported today. Ploeger, who is gay, is an attorney and lives in Grant Park.