Georgia is holding a special election on January 5, 2010, to fill the vacant State Senate seat, 22nd district. Because it is a special election, all candidates may qualify without a petition, and parties don’t have nominees. However, the party label of each candidate is printed on the ballot. The candidates are a Libertarian, Taylor Bryant, and three Democrats (Hardie Davis, Harold Jones, and Sandra Scott).
This will be only the third time that any minor party candidate for State Senate has appeared on the ballot in a Georgia State Senate election, with the party label, in the last 67 years. There was also a Libertarian on the ballot for State Senate in 2002, Todd King; and a Libertarian on the ballot for State Senate in 1992, Larry Bolin. Other than that, there have been no minor party candidates for that office with the party label. This is because the petition hurdle, 5% of the number of registered voters, is virtually prohibitive in regular elections. And in special elections, it is only in the last few years that Georgia has permitted party labels.
In the November 2008 election for State Senate in the 22nd district, the vote had been: Democratic 79.5%; Republican 20.5%. The district is centered on Augusta.
Republicans and Democrats never need to petition in Georgia, because those two parties always poll over 20% of the vote for Governor, as well as polling 20% for President in the entire U.S. The law gives automatic ballot access for all offices to parties that meet either of those 20% hurdles. Libertarians must petition for legislative seats in regular elections, even though the party is on the ballot automatically for all statewide races, under a separate law that lets parties be on the ballot for statewide offices if they polled approximately 2% of the vote for any statewide race in the last election.