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The process of picking Watson's successor gets under way

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By Rich Bauer, Managing Editor

The process of selecting state Sen. Frank Watson’s replacement is under way, and one of the candidates for the job is a local resident.

Randy Pollard, the Fayette County Republican Central Committee chairman, is among the candidates for Watson’s seat, which becomes vacant next Monday.

Watson, who has served as this area’s senator for more than a quarter of a century and as the senate minority leader for the past six years, announced last week that he is stepping down.

Watson, who suffered a stroke last October, resigned to concentrate on his rehabilitation and to spend more time with his family.

Watson’s seat will be filled through a vote by the Republican chairmen in the nine counties that are wholly or partially within the 51st District.

Pollard will not be voting, because he is a candidate for the seat. Mike Hall, central committee vice chairman, will vote in his place. Others voting will be Curtis Haas of Bond County, Marc Hoffman of Clinton County, Steve Donaldson of Effingham County, Jerrold Stocks of Macon County, Donald Metzler of Madison County, Gail Wolfe of Moultrie County, Brad Halbrook of Shelby County and Brian Salvi of St. Clair County.

Each chairman’s vote is weighted based on the most recent general election.

Stocks announced on Monday that the chairmen are accepting applications for the seat through noon next Tuesday.

The person chosen for the seat will serve the balance of Watson’s term, which expires in January 2011.

All individuals interested in applying for the seat must obtain an application, which is available by e-mail at vacancy51@yahoo.com.