Marcus Belk has withdrawn his bid as Democratic nominee to fill the seat of retiring U.S. senator Ernest "Fritz" Hollings of South Carolina, ending his seven-month campaign before the filing deadline Tuesday. Belk, who had announced his Senate run as South Carolina's first openly gay candidate for statewide office, said Monday he would support Democratic front-runner Inez Tenenbaum, the state education superintendent. Tenenbaum faces Ben Frasier, a former police officer and aide to the late representative L. Mendel Rivers Sr., in the June 8 primary.
In Georgia, openly lesbian Atlanta city council president Cathy Woolard will resign next month to run for the U.S. House of Representatives. Woolard seeks the fourth-district seat being vacated by Democrat Denise Majette. Majette said Monday she will run for the Senate, leaving open a U.S. House seat in the heavily Democratic district in DeKalb County. Woolard has been on the Atlanta city council for six years and was the first openly gay candidate to be elected citywide. Woolard said she wanted to run for Congress because she "will be able to address more effectively the issues of quality of life, sustainability, transportation, and economic growth that I have been working on as city council president." Woolard is a close ally of Atlanta mayor Shirley Franklin and listed her main accomplishments as a new shopping district in midtown Atlanta and increased green space in the city. Woolard will face former U.S. representative Cynthia McKinney, who represented the area for 10 years but was upset by Majette in 2002. Several Democratic state legislators also were said to be considering bids for Majette's seat, but none immediately announced candidacies. Majette is hoping to replace retiring Democratic senator Zell Miller. That race includes at least two other Democrats and four Republicans, including U.S. representatives Mac Collins and Johnny Isakson.