Johnson joins race for governor

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. 

tate Sen. Eric Johnson R-Savannah, (foreground) announces he is introducing legislation to allow a universal school voucher program for Georgia students during a press conference at the Coverdell Legislative Office Building Monday, Feb. 2, 2009. In background is Majority Leader State Sen. Chip Rogers R-Woodstock, who also spoke in favor of the legislation. Photo by Kimberly Smith /

tate Sen. Eric Johnson R-Savannah, (foreground) announces he is introducing legislation to allow a universal school voucher program for Georgia students during a press conference at the Coverdell Legislative Office Building Monday, Feb. 2, 2009. In background is Majority Leader State Sen. Chip Rogers R-Woodstock, who also spoke in favor of the legislation. Photo by Kimberly Smith /

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. 

24 comments Add your comment


April 27th, 2009
12:07 pm

Is he this genius that the AJC wrote about earlier this year?

This guy is going to be fun to watch!!!


April 27th, 2009
12:09 pm

Johnson is an idiot. My vote and support(money) will go to Oxendine.


April 27th, 2009
12:31 pm

Tell me, non-citizen 2009, do you have any daughters? Genarlow Wilson should still be in prison for having sex with the other girl at that party as having sex wiht her when she is passed out is not consensual. The state should have brought charges on that but chose not to; a dis-service to the state and to that young lady. Genarlow Wilson is a rapist and I hope all the young women in comes in contact with are very careful. Since you are a non-citizen, your opinion about Johnson means nothing! You seem not to understand that is is the citizen legislators who make the law…that is how our system works.


April 27th, 2009
12:32 pm

He will never win the Republican nomination. What we need is new blood to run the city of Atlanta. We need a transfusion.

N. Joy Pharteen

April 27th, 2009
1:13 pm

ESR, you do realize the governor is the governor of the entire state … not just Atlanta … right?


April 27th, 2009
1:14 pm

Well, Johnson is bald and a no-nothing, do-nothing like Sonny Puredoo. Looks like he’s got a great chance.


April 27th, 2009
1:14 pm

know-nothing … that’s what I know.

Road Scholar

April 27th, 2009
1:15 pm

ESR: He’s running for Governor, not Mayor. So far I’ve not been impressed with any of the candidates from any party.

Independent City Dweller

April 27th, 2009
1:26 pm

Clearly a calculated decision on the part of Mr. Johnson . . . .
Endorsements are going to be the key to cornering the GOP nomination. These early actions by Johnson amount to nothing more than publicity stunts.

I just can’t see major Republican contributors backing this guy but funnier things have happened.

Without Cagle, this turns into a two pony race between “Ox” and Handel.

If you are placing bets, you gotta go with “Ox”.

The Georgia far RIGHT won’t back Handel.

Savannah Escapee

April 27th, 2009
2:12 pm

Georgians, do yourselves a favor and DON’T vote for Johnson. Savannah schools rank dead last for a reason and Johnson’s voucher solution only solves his problem while dumping it on those of us who live in good school districts.

Statesboro Native

April 27th, 2009
2:16 pm

This guy is a moron. If you like Sonny, you’ll love this ego maniac.

noncitizen2009 at

April 27th, 2009
3:07 pm

Spectator (April 27th, 2009, 12:31 pm): You are wrong about Genarlow Wilson. He was charged with rape regarding the other girl. A jury decided he was not guilty. You seem to have pretty strong feelings about Wilson and given that you don’t even know the basic facts, I wonder why that is. Perhaps you are a Johnson protege? That’s how he acts.

And did you say “The state should have brought charges on that but chose not to;”? That’s pretty funny. Are you actually suggesting that Georgia could have charged a black person with a crime but chose not to? I find the idea of that hilarious and I’m a middle-aged, wealthy, white guy.

Don’t be confused by my noncitizen2009 moniker though. I was born in this country and I am a legal citizen. I will definitely be voting for the next Georgia governor. I call myself a non-citizen because the criminal federal government, the Criminal State of Georgia, and various other criminal governments don’t consider me a real citizen. They have passed law after law that have stolen basic right from me. Rights that are enjoyed by nearly all other citizens. Many of the laws have been so egregious that they have been overturned by courts (of the criminal governments, no less!) but the existing laws are still illegal, immoral, anti-American and completely unacceptable.

And yes, I do have quite a few daughters and sons. And I protect them just fine without help from the Criminal State of Georgia. If my children are having sex and I don’t want them to be, or if they are “sexting” or whatever, I sure as h*ll don’t want any criminal governments “helping” me “protect” them.

Barney Fife

April 27th, 2009
3:21 pm

Eric Johnson HATES Black people!!!


April 27th, 2009
3:25 pm

Eric Johnson will continue Sonny Perdue’s policies, particularly the over building and upscaling of Jekyll Island so that it once again becomes an exclusive place for the rich and famous! Notice the last paragraph of the above article….Jamie Reynolds is Eric’s campaign finance chair, Jamie Reynlds is co-owner of Linger Longer Communites, the company who is the private partner with the Jekyll Island Authority to “revitalize” Jekyll Island. Eric Johnson is a member of the Jekyll Island Legislative Oversight Committee. He helped the JIA get the two $50 million bonds for the convention center project (note the JIA said they needed $25 million. The convention center sits right smack dab in the middle of Linger Longer’s “beach village” with 2 Linger Longer hotels, loft condos and 160 time share/condos. Linger Longer will make a 300% profit on the time share sales alone. How is it that Eric Johnson does NOT see that having Jamie Reynolds as his finance chair is a conflict of interest??? His finance chair is a major player in the revitalization of Jekyll which may result in as much as a $2 Billion development project for Linger Longer. If governor, Eric Johnson will be well positioned to assist Linger Longer (as he has already done) and other developers revitalize Jekyll Island State Park and other parks in Georgia…hey, the handwriting is on the wall….the parks lost 40% of their budget and “privatizing” the state’s golf courses is in the works….what’s next?…moutain view condos in the northern parks with the Linger Longer brand on them? Don’t forget, Jamie’s cousin is Mercer Reynolds who was George Bush’s 2004 campaign finance chair. The Reynolds clan are well known as one of the biggest contributors to the Republican party in the country. If Eric does not care that his pick of Jamie Reynolds is a glaring ethical breach, what else is he going to flaunt in front of the public because he is not going to have to worry about his campaign finances due to the face he has Jamie Reynolds working for him?

Carter is a Fool

April 27th, 2009
3:36 pm

He is an idiot. Teachers will not vote for a dunce who wants to cut their throats. No way he will get the nod. I like Handel. Ox seems wishy washy. After what the last legislature did to teachers, none will be voting Republican. Too many tricks being played — National Board pay cut, proposed pay cut for retirees.

Statesboro Native

April 27th, 2009
4:41 pm

Oh, Anne, You forgot to tell everyone he is an architect, too. Nice skim, Eric! Creep.

Barney Fife Is Right

April 27th, 2009
5:05 pm

Eric Johnson does hate Black people (making him an immediate frontrunner in the ‘race’).


April 27th, 2009
5:18 pm

In reading the 16 comments posted so far in response to the AJC’s story on Sen. Eric Johnson’s announcement of his candidacy for Governor, I’m struck by the absence of political realism displayed by the commentators. Let’s faceit folks, Johnson is a cinch to win the GOP nomination, not b/c he’s a great candidate – which he isn’t – but b/c he’s an insider and will be bankrolled beyond belief by the Reynolds family, which has set all sorts of records as Republican fund-raisers, both nationally and in Georgia. And, Johnson has the support of virtually all Republican senators – he’s one of them, after all, and they can’t afford to shun him, for if they do and he wins, there will be political hell to pay. With Casey Cagle out of the race, and with Jack Kingston and Johnny Isakson deferring to Johnson, we’re left with Republican ‘contenders’ Handel and Oxendine, who have very little chance of garnering major support among the powers-brokers in our state.
The Democrats may mount a challenge, especially if Roy Barnes enters the eace, but I just don’t see any Democratic candidate beating Johnson, or any other Republican for that matter. Like it or not, Georgia is a red state and is probably going to stay that way for the forseeable future.
The only chance to end up with a decent Governor is if a Republican dark horse candidate, armed with principles, integrity and a commitment to the common good, enters the race. No one comes to mind in this regard, but there must be a few out there. If such a candidate emerges, and has a populist kind of appeal, then I think Johnson could be beat handily. Otherwise, we’re looking at 8 years of Governor Johnson, with the Reynolds family standing behind the curtain pulling the strings.


April 27th, 2009
5:23 pm

Daniel, I have just the “dark horse” candidate for you, Senator Jeff Chapman. He stood up to Perdue, Johnson, Cagle and the rest of the “boys” to expose the bad deal Perdue’s Jekyll Island Authority Board appointees made with the Reynolds people and Trammell Crow. He fought to keep the south end of Jekyll for school kids instsead of the rich. He is honest as the day is long…reminds me of “Mr. Smiith Goes to Washington.” Governor Jeff Chapman, that has a nice ring to it!


April 27th, 2009
8:46 pm

Eric Johnson=another flag sellout. He faked ‘56 flaggers and worked against them behind the scenes. Anti-southern bigotry won’t fly in a statewide race in GA. Unless he’s running against a political Lazarus in King Rat Roy, I suppose. Yet another lesser of two evils election that would be.


April 27th, 2009
10:45 pm

I admire that type of posting Daniel did. This is the type postings that should be placed. I would not like to see Sen. Johnson in the Governor’s Mansion. He is a strong support of school vouchers. The support of school vouchers is only a rob from Peter to give to Paul. The best thing to happen to public school is to overhaul it and not run from it. A great leader address issues and deal with them. Sen. Johnson support of school vouchers only allow you to run. Sen. Johnson has the power and vote to deal with the problems in public school. Yet he gives you the alternative to let attrition due away with public school. When just a few will leave the public school system through vouchers, what will happen to the rest that cannot leave. Before anyone attack this statement, not all will leave the public school system. We have for years been trying to eliminate welfare system. We still have some depending on this. You just cannot cut off and in the morning it is a new day. It is federal law that all persons are allowed a good education. This is the scenerio, you will cut into the funding of the public schools and still have a greater problem. We will be leaving the “least of them” even thought they will be great in numbers. God wish for us to be concern about the “least of them”. When you passed by the man without water, you passed by me.


April 27th, 2009
11:03 pm

Anyoen that thinks Oxendine is a good candidate should read this:

He is just another good old boy doing what he wants.

Jeff Chapman is the man we need.

Roger Altman

April 28th, 2009
7:39 am

Oxendine would drive the state like he drove the state car.To the junk yard

noncitizen2009 at

April 28th, 2009
9:55 am

Daniel (April 27th, 2009, 5:18 pm):

There’s nothing wrong with posts about Johnson that don’t have anything to do with “political realism”. There are all kinds of topics that may be discussed regarding Johnson. With my posts I was simply trying to point out that he is a pathetic excuse for a human being.

He is a child pornographer that thinks he is above the law. He thinks that he can do things for which normal people in Georgia would be arrested and imprisoned for 25 years. And all the time he is doing this, he is maintaining that he is holier than everyone else and inflicting illegal, useless “sex offender” laws onto Georgia citizens.

His “sex offender” laws and ones he has supported have resulted in over at least 70 individual lawsuits (real number is probably double that) and the Supreme Court of Georgia has invalidated parts of the law at least 3 separate times. Clearly, something is wrong with the law. Most of what is wrong is exactly what EVERY single expert who has testified before the Georgia legislature told them before they ignored all of it and did whatever they wanted. Johnson’s laws were forcing Georgia families out of homes that they owned for no legitimate reasons at all other than to make idiots like him feel good. Decent people never supported these laws and still don’t.

Daniel, hopefully your seemingly well thought out “political realism” will not become reality but if it does, I for one hope that whomever was delivering death threats to Johnson makes good on it. He is an evil “person” who can’t get to “heaven” fast enough. The same can be said for most of Georgia’s criminal Republican “leaders”.