Although he has officially not announced his plans, it is believed that Griffin Judicial Circuit District Attorney Scott Ballard plans to run against Superior Court Judge Tommy R. Hankinson in the 2016 elections. The race will be decided in the May 24, 2016 Non-Partisan General Election.
In a November 25 email sent to newspapers that run his weekly column, ‘DA’s Corner,’ Ballard wrote:
“Although I have not issued a press release to announce that I am running for judge, that information has appeared in three newspapers this week. I think it would be difficult to maintain that I have not publicly announced. So, I think the high ground requires that I suspend the DA’s Corner until after the election.”
“Once again let me express how grateful I am for the opportunity to have a weekly column that permitted me to share my thoughts with those I seek to serve. It’s been a blast!”
In a second email, Ballard stated that he would formally announce his candidacy once he registered an election committee with the state.
Ballard has already informed Hankinson of his plan to run against him.
It is rare that superior court judges are opposed for reelection. Usually, the road to such a position goes through the district attorney’s office. But Ballard was passed over when the two most recent positions in the four-judge circuit came open, with Governor Nathan Deal appointing Robert M. “Mack” Crawford, a Pike County native and former state representative, and State Court Judge W. Fletcher Sams, a Fayette native, to the posts in August 2010, following the resignations of Johnnie Caldwell and Paschal English from the bench.
Hankinson, a resident of Upson County, was appointed to his seat by Governor Roy Barnes in 2002. The fourth judge in the circuit, chief judge Christopher C. Edwards of Fayette County, has been on the bench the longest, having first been elected in 1998.
Born and raised in Fayette County, Ballard graduated from Florida State University College of Law in 1984. After returning to Fayette County to practice law, he defeated incumbent District Attorney Bill McBroom in 2004, taking over as the D. A. for Griffin Judicial Circuit in 2005. The circuit is made up of Fayette, Pike, Spalding and Upson counties.
Because he can’t run for both offices, Ballard will be stepping down as D.A. in 2016. The race to fill his position is already filling up. Among names being batted about are Assistant District Attorney Ben Coker of Upson County, and Fayette County attorney Cindy Manning.
Coker has served as Assistant D. A. in the Upson County office since 2005, but has prosecuted cases in all four counties in the judicial circuit.
Manning worked for Ballard from 2005-2007 before joining an Atlanta law firm. She opened a private practice in Peachtree City in 2012.
Larry Stanford may be reached at 706-647-5414 or on Twitter @LarryStanford7.