“I thought, “This could be an opportunity to serve our community,” he said. “[Wife Heather] was very quick to say, ‘I’ll support you 100 percent.’”
Gravley, 38, was named by the State Republican Party Executive Committee last week to replace District 67 State Rep. Bill Hembree, R-Winston, as the Republican nominee for Hembree’s House seat. Gravely will face Democratic nominee Leigh McMutry of Winston in the Nov. 6 general election.
Hembree resigned his seat last week to run for the State Senate District 30 seat vacated by Bill Hamrick after Gov. Nathan Deal named Hamrick to an open Coweta Judicial District Superior Court judgeship.
District 67 includes northwest Douglas County and south central Paulding County.
Gravley, a resident of south Paulding County, beat out Winston attorney Jack Clay and former Douglasville City Council member C.J. Nutter for the executive committee’s nomination after a series of phone interviews and a private vote Sept. 5.
“I never knew events were going to unfold as they did,” Gravley said.
The nominee served as a staff member for former Georgia U.S. Rep. Bob Barr and former Gov. Sonny Perdue. He also served as the Paulding County coordinator for both the Mike Huckabee and John McCain presidential campaigns in 2008.
He said he was approached by “several folks in the community” to consider the post and counts among his supporters Douglas County District Attorney David McDade and Paulding County District Attorney Dick Donovan.
Gravley recently has worked with the Georgia Trial Lawyers Association as the statewide grassroots director.
He also serves as president of Paulding Public Safety Appreciation Inc., which organizes the annual Paulding Public Safety Appreciation Day in October. He awarded the county’s three law enforcement agencies and fire/rescue department $1,000 each to begin their own benevolent funds for survivors of those killed in the line of duty last week, Gravley said.
He said he planned to be an advocate for public safety workers and wanted to work closely with the school boards in Douglas and Paulding counties.
McMutry, a Winston church administrator, said in a statement she found it “odd that Gravley of Paulding County would be selected to run over someone like Jack Clay who lives in Winston and is visible in Douglas County, which is the county that encompasses most of the 67th district.”
“I’m not sure what’s going on, but hopefully the voters will ask these questions themselves when they go to vote on [Nov. 6],” she said.
“I want to make it clear, their selection makes no difference to me or the campaign. My intentions when I qualified were not to run against Bill Hembree, the Republican Party and certainly not against Mr. Gravley.
“This House seat is not a battle between parties for me. I am actually running for my community to have a voice at the state level. I believe we have brilliant students, extremely capable teachers [and] principals, a concerned local school board and a well spoken community,” she said.