4 candidates run in Georgia House election to replace Richard Smith, who died


ATLANTA (AP) — Three Republicans and an independent have qualified for an April 9 election in Georgia House District 139 to replace state Rep. Richard Smith, who died Jan. 30 while ill with the flu.

Republicans include Sean Knox, who owns a pest control company and is a former member of the board of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce; oral and facial surgeon Don Moeller, an Army veteran who is both a physician and dentist; and Carmen Rice, a human resources professional who is the first woman to serve as Republican Party chair in Muscogee County.

Running as an independent is Robert Mallard, an Army veteran and former real estate broker who owns a beekeeping and honey company.

No Democrats qualified in what historically has been a Republican district. The district covers parts of Muscogee and Harris counties.

All the candidates will run together in the special election with no primaries to select nominees. If no one wins a majority on April 9, the two candidates winning the most votes will advance to a runoff on May 7.

The election is only for the remainder of Smith's term through the end of this year. Any candidate who wants to continue serving would have to qualify again early next month to run in November.