ATLANTA -- A pair of small-town politicians is looking for a promotion to statewide office by unseating Republican Secretary of State Brian Kemp.

The Democratic duo, Doreen Carter and Gerald Beckum, must face one another in the May 20 primary before the winner takes on Kemp in November.

Carter is a former city council member in the Atlanta suburb of Lithonia, population 2,000. Her campaign for the statehouse came up short two years ago.

If elected this year, she wants to focus on overseeing smoothly run elections, efficient operation of the Secretary of State's Office and boosting business opportunities, according to her campaign materials.

"I will use the executive Office of the Secretary of State to encourage legislation that seeks to make voting easier for legal citizens of our state, not harder – especially for the elderly and those of foreign origin," she said.

She's president of the Lithonia Chamber of Commerce and does accounting for the Georgia Congress of PTAs. She has one master's degree in business administration and another in theology, and she does financial and motivational consulting on the side.

Beckum was mayor of the 1,200-person town of Oglethorpe for 20 years who had planned to run for the U.S. Senate until party leaders convinced him to aim for Kemp instead. He agreed since he opposes one-party rule like the Republicans have enjoyed recently.

"I think it's bad for the state of Georgia, whether we have all Republican or all Democrat," he said.

If elected, he'll focus on ensuring at least one week of early voting at the option of local officials and streamlining businesses' interactions with the Secretary of State's Office.

"My biggest thing with Secretary of State is to make it as business friendly as possible," he said.

The winner of the primary will face Kemp in the general election in November.

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Name: Doreen Carter

Home: Lithonia

Occupation: Accounting

Political experience: Lithonia City Council, ran for House of Representatives

Name: Gerald Beckum

Home: Oglethorpe

Occupation: Owns a nursery/landscape business

Political experience: Mayor of Oglethorpe


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