A hearing before an administrative judge to determine the constitutional residency requirements for House District 51 Democratic candidate Josh McLaurin is set for Friday, April 20, at the Georgia Office of State Administrative Hearings.

Joshua McLaurin.

Democratic State Rep. Scott Holcomb of Atlanta’s Holcomb + Ward LLP firm is representing McLaurin in the challenge. In an April 6 letter to Secretary of State Brian Kemp Holcomb asserted McLaurin meets all the requirements to run for the seat and asked for the challenge to be dismissed.

“This challenge is a nothing-burger,” Holcomb said in a press release from McLaurin. “Josh is a Georgian and has satisfied all of the legal requirements to be on the ballot. We expect the challenge to be dismissed and Josh’s candidacy to move forward.”

Former Sandy Springs City Council and Fulton County Republican Party member Gabriel Sterling filed a complaint challenging McLaurin’s residency last month and is asking Secretary of State Brian Kemp to remove McLaurin from the ballot.

Sterling is supporting his party’s candidate, Alex Kaufman, in the race. Kaufman and McLaurin seek to replace retiring state Rep. Wendell Willard, a Republican, in the House district covering the Sandy Springs panhandle and parts of Johns Creek and Roswell.

Gabriel Sterling.

Sterling alleged in his complaint that McLaurin move to Georgia from New York means he does not meet the two-year state residency requirement nor the one-year district residency requirement to run for the office. Sterling’s complaint was written and delivered by the Robbins Firm, an Atlanta law firm specializing in litigation and regulatory law.

In an 89-page response to Sterling’s challenge, Holcomb lays out a timeline that he states proves McLaurin has met the state and district residency requirements and noting that McLaurin grew up in Sandy Springs and lived in Georgia for many years before moving to New York.

“His Georgia residency — with respect to both intention and removal in fact — was firmly established in October 2016. Mr. McLaurin has been a Georgia citizen since then, making him a Georgia citizen for a cumulative total of 28 years,” Holcomb states in his letter to Kemp seeking a dismissal of the complaint.

State Rep. Scott Holcomb.

“Mr. McLaurin continues to live—and be registered to vote—in House District 51. The challenge contends that Mr. McLaurin has maintained a somewhat transitory lifestyleand they submit that he does not intend to remain at his residence in Sandy Springs,” Holcomb wrote in his letter to Kemp.

“But, vague assertions and improper guessing of motives aside, the challenge cannotover come either Mr. McLaurin’s stated intention nor the factors establishing removal inf act,” Holcomb stated.

In late 2016, McLaurin announced a run for the 6th Congressional District seat eventually won by Karen Handel, but he did not actually enter the race. At the time, he was living in Roswell. He currently lives in Sandy Springs and announced his House District 51 campaign last fall.

Dyana Bagby

Dyana Bagby is a staff writer for Reporter Newspapers and Atlanta Intown.