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Macon Mayor Jack Ellis said Thursday that he is forming a committee so he can raise money to campaign for the 8th Congressional District, a seat now held by U.S. Rep. Jim Marshall.

Ellis said he will embark on a listening tour through the district in the coming weekends and then more heavily once he leaves office in December. The district stretches from south Georgia's Colquitt County through Middle Georgia to the southern edge of metro Atlanta.

"I'm running because I think we need a real Democrat to represent this district in office," Ellis said, according to video of his announcement taped by mayoral spokesman Ron Wildman. Ellis was on his way out of town Thursday afternoon and did not comment beyond his statements earlier in the day.

The mayor blasted Marshall, a fellow Democrat, for voting against a bill that would expand the federal program providing health-care coverage to children in low-income families. The program is known nationally as SCHIP and in Georgia is called PeachCare for Kids.

After the Senate and House of Representatives passed the expansion bill, President Bush vetoed the legislation Wednesday, setting up a showdown with Congress.

Marshall was one of eight House Democrats who voted against the bill. He has said expanding the program "is among my highest priorities" but he wants first to make sure its benefits are fairly distributed.

Thursday, Ellis called on Marshall to reverse his position and to help override Bush's veto.

"I say to Rep. Jim Marshall, shame on you" for voting against the children of poor, working families in Middle Georgia, Ellis said.

The mayor hastened to add that he would not be a one-issue congressional candidate. In addition to health care, Ellis said he would focus on issues of Robins Air Force Base, veterans' health care and burgeoning ethanol production in the agriculture industry, he said.

Marshall had no comment on Ellis' plans. His spokesman, Doug Moore, pointed out that Bush won 62 percent of the vote in the 8th District in 2004.

"Does anyone know any Ellis-Bush voters?" Moore asked.

Marshall is a former Macon mayor who defeated Ellis to win that office in 1995. Since his 2002 election to the House, he has not been challenged by a fellow Democrat.

But Marshall has become a perennial target for Republicans. He seems likely to face stiff competition from the GOP again next year, this time from retired Air Force Gen. Rick Goddard and perhaps his 2006 foe, former Congressman Mac Collins.

The primary in Georgia is scheduled for July 15, 2008. The general election will be Nov. 4, 2008.
What an idiot.
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