Hecht sizing up run for Lt. Governor

By Justin Boron

The Southside could have one of its own as a lieutenant governor.

Ten months away from the Democratic primary, Greg Hecht, a Jonesboro resident and name partner in the local law firm Fincher & Hecht, is already campaigning for the positioning. The office, which many politicians have used as a stepping stone to the governorship, will be vacated by Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor, who is running for governor.

Based in Jonesboro, Hecht said he has traveled all over the state drumming up support for the election.

But he said he expects Atlanta's Southside to be an important voting block for him.

”Out of all four candidates, I'm the only candidate that lives south of Interstate 20,“ he said.

His heavily Democratic home county will likely help him in the party's primary next year.

”Clayton (County) would definitely be in the top three areas you would want to have a stronghold,“ he said.

Hecht also said the business and community ties he has to Henry County will be an important to ensuring that he gets some of the Republican vote there. He said he has several moderate and conservative Republicans supporting him.

Attention to the lieutenant governor race – which 13 months before the final vote has already had its first public forum featuring the four candidates – has been fueled by the consternation surrounding Republican candidate Ralph Reed. His name has repeatedly surfaced in investigations into his lobbying tactics in Washington.

Hecht, hoping to gain momentum from questions into Reed's background, cites polls on his Web site that he said illustrates Reed's waning support.

But first, the former state senator must topple his Democratic opponent John Martin, another former legislator from the Morningside neighborhood in Atlanta.

Martin is emphasizing affordable and accessible healthcare, a top quality education system, and rational economic development, said Lee Echols, a spokesman for the candidate.

Hecht said he wants to reinstate funding that would shrink classroom sizes and advocated a regional funding solution to multi-modal transportation like the commuter rail line planned to run from Atlanta to Macon.

He also accused the present administration of ”endangering the HOPE scholarship“ by decreasing the amounts of checks to its recipients.

”I just think the HOPE scholarship is one of (Georgia's) bright stars,“ he said. ”I don't like the way they have reduced the benefits.“

Echols also said Martin advocates finding ways to ”strengthen HOPE rather than diluting it.“