New twist to local State Senate race

The race for the State Senate seat being vacated by Shelly Echols took a new turn this week after security video at candidate Josh Clark’s Flowery Branch home show his opponent, Drew Echols, visiting the house unannounced and uninvited, according to Clark.

Echols, for his part, says he was there at the invitation of one of his friends who had rented the house. Echols says he found evidence that it was not being lived in. That, Echols says, means Clark does not live in the Senate District at issue in the May 21 Republican Primary.

Clark says the house is his permanent home but that he and his wife were staying elsewhere at the time of Echols’ visit – a common practice, he says, when they rent the house.

Echols is Shelly Echols’ husband.

It started when Echols, who is competing for the seat now held by his wife, Shelly, said one of his friends rented Clark’s property in Flowery Branch last week and invited Echols to the house.

He said a look around the house, where he found bare drawers and an empty fridge, confirmed his suspicion that Clark didn’t live there but rented it out.

“If Josh Clark can’t tell the truth about where he actually lives, what else is he hiding?” Echols said.

Clark said he was insulted by the claim and that he and his family have lived in the home for five years but rent it out occasionally to help cover property taxes and other bills.

His children attend a Christian school in the district, his family worships at a local church and he exercises at a nearby CrossFit gym. He called Echols’ visit to his property “childish and alarming.”

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“The reality is that he’s desperate enough to snoop around our house while I’m out knocking on doors,” Clark said.

In a press release, Clark took it a step further, saying he could report it to authorities “once we have more information.” In a burst of hyperbole, he dubbed the incident “Watergate 2.0.”