Atlanta gay attorney Randy New puts hat in ring for Ga. House District 56

Atlanta gay attorney Randy New has announced he is running for the Ga. House District 56 seat as an independent and is asking friends and supporters to make donations at his website.

New, an attorney with Kitchens New Cleghorn LLC, wrote in a Jan. 5 email to friends and supporters telling them he is running for public office after thinking about doing so for many years.

“I am excited to tell each of you that, having pondered such for years, I am going to run to be elected to the House of Representatives of the Georgia Legislature. The next election for representatives is November of 2014 and I would serve in early 2015,” New stated.

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New’s strategy, he stated in the email, is to not run in the May primary but to be on the ballot in November as an independent.

“Just a few strategy points for now. First, we are not going to run in the upcoming primary in May where so few people bother to vote (and when very few people even know that a vote could be cast). Rather, we are going to run as an independent in the general election in November,” New stated.

“That decision will allow us to be efficient with money we raise and to maximize our chances of winning. Moreover and very frankly, being elected to the legislature as an independent has a better chance of producing real influence for me and for all of us because the Republican Party has a virtual constitutional majority in the legislature today and is likely to maintain that status in 2015,” he added.

Getting on the ballot in Georgia as an independent is no easy task, however. A person running as an independent must have verified signatures from 5 percent of registered voters in the district they are running for, according to the Secretary of State. New is required to witness every signature and petitions cannot be passed around at offices or public gatherings or outside of any establishment that sells alcohol, including grocery stores.

Four years ago, New was part of a group of LGBT activists who were angered by a Democratic Party of Georgia mailer that accused Mary Norwood, who said she is an independent but is also pro marriage equality, of actually being a Republican in her bid to be Atlanta’s mayor against Democrat Kasim Reed. The Atlanta mayoral race is non-partisan and Reed went on to win that election over Norwood by just some 700 votes. Norwood at the time suppored marriage equality while Reed came out in support of full marriage equality last December.

New also stated he would not stop working at his law firm.

“You may know that the Georgia legislature meets for 40 days each year in the early part of the calendar year; therefore, be assured that I am not quitting my day job of lawyering. My goals are two fold – (i) to contribute to your and my mutual well-being in an additional way and (ii) to learn and indeed teach clients, students and others about law and public policy issues in a different way than I have before,” New stated in the email.

New named his campaign team in the email as well: Sharon Semmens, a longtime friend of New’s and former board chair of Georgia Equality, who is heading up the finance committee; co-campaign chair Todd Stein, former counsel to retired U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman; and the other campaign chair, Andrew Schroer, a friend and client of New’s firm who buys, develops and sells businesses.

House District 56 includes Piedmont Heights, Ansley Park, Georgia Tech, parts of Midtown, English Avenue, Vine City, Washington Park, West Lake, Dixie Hills, Hunter Hills, Ashview Heights, Atlanta University Center, Morehouse College, Mozley Park, University Community Campus, Florida Heights, Chalet Woods and Audobon Forest.

Longtime LGBT activist Ken Britt ran for House District 56 in 2012 in his first bid for public office, but lost to “Able” Mable Thomas, a former state representative, 35.28 percent to 64.72 percent.

Another gay attorney, Kyle Williams of Decatur, is running for Democratic state Sen. Jason Carter’s seat as Carter seeks to unseat Gov. Nathan Deal. Elena Parent, a former state representative, is also seeking the Democratic nomination to replace Carter.

Gay Democrat Bob Gibeling announced last year his running for Ga. House District 54.