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Report: Vernon Jones Likely to Run for Athens Congressional Seat

Vernon Jones speaks to Oconee County Republicans in September. Credit: Blake Aued

Party-switching outspoken Trump supporter Vernon Jones is dropping out of the governor’s race to run for a U.S. House seat instead, likely in the 10th Congressional District, which includes Athens, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.

Always a longshot because the former state representative and DeKalb County CEO only became a Republican in 2020, Jones saw any chance of winning the GOP primary for governor evaporate when former Sen. David Perdue got into the race against Gov. Brian Kemp with Donald Trump’s blessing. Jones is running a distant third.

He received a warm reception at an Oconee County Republican Party meeting in October, where he mostly spread misinformation and conspiracy theories about the 2020 election. He’s not required to live in the district to run, but it’s still a disadvantage, especially with a dozen candidates already in the race and early voting for the May 24 primary starting in less than three months.

A recent poll put Mike Collins, a trucking company executive who lost to Rep. Jody Hice in 2014, in the lead with 36% of the vote. (Hice is leaving the seat to run for Georgia secretary of state.) Former congressman Paul Broun was second with 11%, followed by former state revenue commissioner David Curry and state Rep. Timothy Barr (R-Lawrenceville), who’s been endorsed by Hice. Only 16% of Republican voters were undecided.

Jones would also have to answer for past liberal positions like support for abortion rights, as well as allegations of abuse toward women.

Several Democrats are also running for the seat, but the Republican primary is the de facto general election because the mostly white, rural district tilts so far to the right.

Another option, the AJC reported, would be the 6th District in north metro Atlanta. Rep. Lucy McBath is abandoning that seat to run in the 7th after Republicans redrew it to make it more conservative. But reporter Greg Bluestein said sources told him Jones plans to run in the 10th.