Rep. Jim Cole will be new Secretary of State

Republican  Rep. Jim Cole, a three-term lawmaker from Forsyth in Middle Georgia, will be  picked by Gov. Sonny Perdue to be the next Secretary of State, sources tell the AJC.

Cole, Perdue’s House floor leader,  will replace Karen Handel, who announced last week she would resign to concentrate full time on her race for governor. Perdue’s office is expected to make the announcement Monday.

Cole, 38,  will serve out the final year of Handel’s term. He will also run in 2010 for a full, four-year term.

Cole has been on Perdue’s House team for three years, carrying and pushing the governor’s legislation.

The Secretary of State’s Office  incorporates business and oversees professional licensing boards and elections. The last three Secretaries of State have each gone on to run for governor. The Secretary of State before that, Max Cleland, wound up serving a term in the U.S. Senate.

Cole, who is married and has two children,  has undergraduate and MBA degrees from Mercer University. According to his House biography, after leaving school he began Culligan Water of Middle Georgia. After growing the business and opening offices in both Macon and Columbus, Cole sold his business and took over as assistant athletic director for Mercer.

45 comments Add your comment


December 31st, 2009
3:44 pm

Secretary of States? Shouldn’t that be Secretaries of State?

Glad She Is Leaving

December 31st, 2009
3:51 pm

Adios incompetent Ms. Handel


December 31st, 2009
3:52 pm

Welcome to Georgia, where you too can be Secretary of State! No experience required. Apply within.

uberVU - social comments

December 31st, 2009
3:54 pm

Social comments and analytics for this post…

This post was mentioned on Twitter by ajc: Jim Cole has been picked by Gov. Sonny Perdue to be the next Secretary of State.…

I Wonder

December 31st, 2009
4:01 pm

I wonder if Jim Cole will stand up to the state’s watchdogs as Secretary of State? He wasn’t very good at that on the local level.

[...] Gov. Sonny Perdue has picked state Rep. Jim Cole, R-Forsyth, to replace Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel, the AJC’s James Salzer reports. [...]

Nothing but the Truth

December 31st, 2009
4:06 pm

Yes, welcome to Georgia where Governor Sonny Perdue will say up yours to candidates who have been running hard for this office for a year and appoint some inexperienced flunky to the office.

It will be so nice to say goodbye and up yours to Sonny Perdue in January of 2011.

The Truth

December 31st, 2009
4:15 pm

Unbelievable…..the cronyism just continues under this very underwhelming man. When will the Republican party in this state wise up????


December 31st, 2009
4:22 pm

Why are you all surprised. When did Sonny ever make a good decision or do anything that really benifited the people of Georgia?

Ben is dumb

December 31st, 2009
4:26 pm

Ben, are you from Tennessee? It’s not plural it’s possessive. Foreign terms to you I’m sure.

True Republican

December 31st, 2009
4:27 pm

Brian Kemp is still the class of the field


December 31st, 2009
4:27 pm

He should have appointed Janet Nepolitano. At least she would tell us “No problems,everything is working just as it should in Georgia” ….

Enough Already

December 31st, 2009
4:32 pm

Same old Same old out of Sonny Perdue… Good riddance…

'Ben is dumb" is dumb

December 31st, 2009
4:37 pm

You’re looking at the wrong reference. Ben was right, and the article was modified to include his correction.

Enough is Enough

December 31st, 2009
4:42 pm

Well, another dufus as a pick of Sonny Perdue. Think we know who the chief dufus is, Perdue.


December 31st, 2009
4:52 pm

Ben, go back to grammar school. Insider is correct. It is secretaries of state, attorneys general, etc.


December 31st, 2009
5:09 pm

Hey, no time to post; I’m off to deliver another load to Goodwill before they close!

[...] Original post: Rep. Jim Cole will be new Secretary of State | Gold Dome Live [...]


December 31st, 2009
5:35 pm

I had forgotten Perdue was still governor…he hasn’t done anything in years.

Political Jock director

December 31st, 2009
5:37 pm

and took over as assistant athletic director for Mercer.* Story

So does this mean that the SSO will be in the top 10 this coming summer or the bottom 2000 on ESPN?


December 31st, 2009
6:07 pm

Kemp is the fix to this.

Steven Lemon

December 31st, 2009
6:15 pm

Who cares about ANYTHING of state? Barack Obama, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi are in charge of the whole country and I don’t really see anything left for the governor or any state official to do.

Tom in Roswell

December 31st, 2009
6:24 pm

Jim Cole is part of the culture of corruption at the Gold Dome…goes to church in his home town and then heads straight to his hot lobbyist girl friend in Atlanta. He is a running buddy of Richardson and Burkhalter, etc. and now he will be “outted” with lurid stories of his illicit activities. You should have kept your head down, Jim Cole. Now you are toast.


December 31st, 2009
7:00 pm

I hope the guy does a good job. Don’t know anything about him, but he’s got to be better than Handel. Didn’t she declare bankruptcy? and she wants to run the state? No way!

A Forsythian

December 31st, 2009
8:29 pm

Ladies and Gentlemen, c’mon. You are speaking without even knowing anything about this man. He is a friend and a good Christian from a great family. How in the heck is the Secretary of State going to affect your daily life anyway? If you don’t like him in a year vote him out of office. I personally congratulate Jim Cole. He’ll be fine. BTW, AJC didn’t mention the fact that he played major league baseball too before a career ending injury. I know this has nothing to do with his qualifications, just a neat fact.

Tom in Roswell

December 31st, 2009
8:31 pm

Jim Cole is the guy who put out the “high and mighty” b.s.comments about Speaker Glenn Richardson. Cole is about to experience what Mike Bowers learned the hard way: dirt always shows on a white hat.

baseball historian

December 31st, 2009
11:46 pm

Correction “A Forsythian” – Cole only “insinuates” that he played “major league baseball”. Actually he only played “minor league” ball. Specifically, he played for the Beloit (Wisconsin) Brewers, the Stockton (California) Ports, and the El Paso (Texas) Diablos.

Cole never made it to a “big league” field. That is, if you don’t include the many Braves games he’s attended as the guest of his lobbyist friends, for example – 7/21/09-$208.00, 7/20/09-$250.00, 7/16/09-$52.00, 6/11/09-$30.00, 4/28/09-$250.00, 8/27/08-$215.00, 8/10/06-$158.37, 5/4/05-$53.00, 4/23/05-$105.00 (source – State Ethics Commission website).

Not a single major league game, . . . not a single major league pitch, . . . not a single major league at bat; . . . he’s a minor-leaguer.


December 31st, 2009
11:55 pm

Isn’t this an elected position? Why is this person being appointed? Oh…never mind….I see it in the 4th paragraph….”****Cole has been on Perdue’s House team for three years, ****carrying and pushing the governor’s legislation*****”…. That explains it all! Dictatorship in action.

Be Afraid

January 1st, 2010
12:38 am

The fact that a man of more than questionable integrity gets to move up a floor in the State Capitol to his new office as Secretary of State should be a matter of concern in the daily life of every Georgian. Given that the Office of Secretary of State is charged with, among other things, overseeing and certifying elections and administering the licensing of several professions from accountants to general contractors, it is imperative that the individual holding the office be not only qualified but trustworthy. Cole is neither. Hopefully some enterprising reporters are already looking into the past and will connect the dots between the numerous skeletons in the halls of the Capitol.

Road Scholar

January 1st, 2010
8:45 am

Was the writing on the wall that Perdue’s “partners in crime” were going to lose their titles when the legislature reconvenes and votes them out of power? I have to admit that I didn’t have any trouble with Handel, except for some of the election rules she tried to impose.

Does Cole know the SOS offices are in Macon?

Come On Sonny

January 1st, 2010
8:59 am

Sonny, Sonny, Sonny, what qualifies this guy to be the third most powerful guy in the state executive branch. You had your choice of Harvard MBA’s and you pick the an assistant AD at an athletic department. Our last Secretary of State you supported didn’t have a GED which clearly expresses your insecurities in supporting people you can control. I am thankful we only have one more year of you.

Enough is Enough

January 1st, 2010
10:01 am

Cole is a “Culligan man” that is probably enough for this job

Georgia 123456

January 1st, 2010
10:51 am

Jim Cole, SOS. What a joke. Jim is the most under-handed, backstabbing person I have ever met. He truly personifies corruption in politics. Jim’s idea of advancement is stepping on whoever he needs to to get where he needs to go. He’s done a terrible job at Mercer and when he tries to run for any statewide office I guarantee you he will not win the city of Macon. His exploits in Forsyth and Macon are legendary, but not in a good way. Jim is Perdue’s boy, plain and simple. If you think Perdue is doing a great job then you have a seamless transition here with Cole.


January 1st, 2010
12:16 pm

The only qualification needed to be the GOP pick for Secretary of State is to work tirelessly to keep black folks from voting. Just like Karen Handel. If he does that, the GOP base will give him the job full-time.

Nothing else matters to Perdue.


January 1st, 2010
3:26 pm

now we know why the initials for the Secretary of State are so appropriate…..SOS

Ric S

January 1st, 2010
4:52 pm

Any allegation that Karen Handels voter ID and citizenship verification programs have disproportionately affected minorities and the elderly is unfounded. In 2008, Karen Handel oversaw the largest voter turnout among minority and elderly voters in GA’s history. A 140% increase among African-Americans and 42% increase among Hispanics. Safe, fair, and honest elections.


January 1st, 2010
9:04 pm

Glad she is leaving, she has made one mess out of the cosmetology, barber, & nail board. She has mixed it up with used car inspectors, funeral inspectors, auction inspectors, etc. She has tried to cross train all these inspectors to do something out of their field which some have degrees and should not be doing other inspectors jobs. I have been there, what a mess.


January 2nd, 2010
9:39 am

Jim Cole has worked hard as a representative. It is hard to believe he would leave a sure thing for the SOS office. No one will ever think he is qualified because he has been Sonny’s tote and fetch boy for the last 2 years. This will also cost the counties plenty by having to hold a special election. Jim ought to back out and keep his job as representative and run for the position of SOS if that is what he wants. I just read former Mayor Holmes of Monticello plans to run. You think the GOP is corrupt now? Elect her and you will find out what corruption is.

speak the truth

January 2nd, 2010
1:18 pm

Jim has his home town folks fooled. Just as with many of these guys, they run wild when they get away from home for a few days. Jim shamelessly hits on the young attractive women at the Capitol. It was quite hypocritical that he was the one to issue the pledge of fidelity for candidates for the Speaker’s position. As others have noted, this appointment is Purdue attempt to continue his control of the executive branch during his last year and beyond.

Sandy Springs GOP

January 2nd, 2010
2:57 pm

While I am a Doug supporter, I have to admit this is a real knife in the back to Kemp. Everyone is trashing Sonny (as they should), but the guy who is really being a jerk here is Cole. It has been a real frustration for all of us Doug supporters that the General Assembly is almost universally supporting Kemp – and that includes Cole! Cole endorsed Kemp, gave him money, hosted a fundraiser for him. I have also heard they’re close friends, were roommates during the session, and are business partners of some sort. What does it say about Cole that he would sell out Kemp like this?

They say if you want a friend in politics get a dog, but what dog would want to be friends with a guy like Jim Cole after this?

Tom Lobbyist

January 3rd, 2010
8:42 am

This one has me scratching my head. The Governor certainly did not do his home work on this one. Cole is known as a big party boy in the house. His exploits are legendary. Wonder how many pictures there are of him at Atlanta’s strip clubs with lobbyists. Either the Governor did not do his homework, or his morals are much less than I have always assumed. When this story come out fully, the GA GOP will have another image problem for an important election year. Maybe that’s it, the Governor and Cole are going to be party switchers back to the Democrats!


January 3rd, 2010
10:37 pm

Let’s talk about Karen Handel. She needed to go. She was the queen of spin dodging any ties to her poor management decisions. Sure everyone has an opinion about the way she handled election process. But her real failure was her management of the Professional Licensing Division of Georgia. All we can hope for now is that she fails in her race for the Governor’s seat. No matter how you feel about Cole, its very likely he is more qualified for the job than Karen was when she ran for SOS.

Jim Mora Jr.

January 4th, 2010
9:25 am

Cole is responsible for introducing the “Super Speeder Tax Bill” in the House…that’s all I need to know to GUARANTEE he doesn’t even get consideration for my vote next year.

Respect and Maturity

January 4th, 2010
9:57 am

The woud be political pundits on this board need to exercise a bit of respectful reservation when they speak as though they know something. You speak of corruption and infidelity as if the wills of men’s minds are apparent to you. Yet your true motives come out harsh and fast when the ‘what have you done for me lately’ welfare mentality of the “HOPE” generation fuels your ‘corruption’ charges. You talk of inexperience on a topic of which you have no knowledge. Jim Cole has succeeded as a student, baseball player (yes not major leagues – but raise your hand if you played professional ball), business man, school administrator and a high profile member of the General Assembly for several years. I have interacted with the man in the Gold Dome but I don’t claim to know what he is like at home or what his wife likes to serve for dinner on Sunday nights. But I do know that when I offer opinions on other men they will be based on facts and things I know to be true; not rumors, generalizations or anger that the government hasn’t given me a big enough allowance yet. And please will those of you who think your are “in”, who think you “know”, who know nothing about the subject of which you speak – go to bed or leave this state and take your infantilism elsewhere.

Dan Matthews

January 4th, 2010
1:12 pm

Just as Rush Limbaugh runs the National GOP, it now seems Erick Erickson wields the same kind of power here in Georgia. Jim Cole will now stay at Mercer to schedule athletic events instead of running as an incumbent for Secretary of State.