Georgia Rep. Tommy Smith (R-Nicholls) is withdrawing his candidacy for state House speaker, the day before the Republican caucus was set to vote. Smith, a South Georgia blueberry farmer, said his support didn’t materialize.
“It doesn’t look I’ve got the votes,” he told the AJC.
The former Democrat and a 30-year member of the House was considered a long shot. Smith was the first representative to announce he wanted House Speaker Glenn Richardson’s job earlier this month.
In his note to colleagues, Smith took his failed bid in stride.
“Stop by and see me when you are in south Georgia and we will see that you leave happy and healthy with plenty of blueberries,” he wrote.
Richardson, the once-powerful speaker, shocked the state last month by revealing that he recently had attempted suicide. He said at the time he was depressed because of his divorce but that he intended to stay in office.
However, his ex-wife appeared on television and declared he had an affair with a lobbyist and had sent her text-messages threatening to use state agencies, including the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, to harass her.
Richardson abruptly announced he was resigning, effective Jan. 1.
The Republican caucus is set to vote on their speaker pick Thursday morning. The remaining candidates are Rep. Larry O’Neal (R-Bonaire) and Rep. David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge) and Rep. Bill Hembree (R-Winston).