State Sen. Eric Johnson (R-Savannah) made it official Monday: He’ll seek the 2010 GOP nomination for governor, and he called on his fellow Republicans to clear the path for Casey Cagle to seek re-election as lieutenant governor.
Johnson had previously announced a bid for lieutenant governor, but incumbent Cagle’s decision to seek re-election rather than run for the top job changed Johnson’s options.
Johnson, a former Senate president pro tem, made his announcement via press release as Cagle was in an Atlanta area hospital under going surgery to correct a degenerative spinal condition.
“As I traveled the state campaigning and visiting with Georgians from all walks of life, I was thrilled to see the support and encouragement we received in every corner of this state,” Johnson said in the release. “Georgians recognize that we need a steady, tested, and experienced leader to address the challenges we face as a state and to build on the progress we’ve made under Republican leadership. My vision for our future focuses on how we can create new 21st century jobs, reform education to improve student achievement, and ensure effective and ethical government. Effective leadership is about trust. I hope to earn the trust of the Georgians and the opportunity to serve as their governor.”
Cagle’s medical situation prompted him to exit the governor’s race and run for a second term in his current job.
Johnson also asked that Georgians keep Cagle and his family in their thoughts and prayers. The two met over the weekend, Johnson said.
“He has earned the right to be our nominee and deserves the opportunity to take all the necessary time with his recovery,” Johnson said of Cagle.
Johnson’s campaign confirmed that their candidate was calling on state Sen. David Shafer (R-Duluth) to abandon his bid for lieutenant governor.
The decisions by Cagle and Johnson have changed the face of both races. Cagle was considered the front-runner for the gubernatorial nomination. His exit left that title in doubt, although many observers give that distinction now to Secretary of State Karen Handel or Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine. Johnson joins that pair, as well as state Rep. Austin Scott (R-Tifton) and states rights supporter Ray McBerry.
Cagle and Shafer (R-Duluth) are the only two announced candidates for the GOP nomination. No Democrat has announced for lieutenant governor while at least four Dems are expected to seek their party’s nomination in 2010.
Since Cagle announced he would seek re-election, Shafer has said he plans to take a few weeks to consider his options, leaving the open the possibility he would drop out or run for another office.
Johnson has formed most of his campaign organization, with veteran Republican operative Derrick Dickey serving as general consultant, Jamie Reynolds as finance chairman, former state GOP executive director Ben Fry as campaign manager and Doug Chalmers and Randy Evans as legal counsel.