Had a text-message exchange this morning with former Atlanta Braves pitcher John Smoltz, who was caught off-guard by Republican interest in seeing him run for U.S. John Linder’s seat in a July primary.
Linder announced his retirement Saturday morning. We immediately got a call from Washington letting us know that Republicans intended to approach Smoltz to enter the campaign to replace him.
Pardon the language, but the brief conversation with Smoltz went something like this:
Me: jim galloway w ajc politics here. Could u call re ur interest in linder seat? Thx.
Smoltz: I do not know what you are talking about I am not in any way involved in anything regarding politics sorry.
Me: [Certain Washington source] says u would make gud candidate to replace john linder who has announced retirement. Interested?
Smoltz: Sorry I am not.
Smoltz followed this messages with a phone call an hour or so later, and — and from a volleyball tournament in Alabama — confessed that he’d thought someone had been playing a joke on him.
Assured that the GOP interest in him was indeed real, Smoltz still said no to a congressional run. “It’s not in my plans,” he said. Ever? The pitcher said he’s learned never to say never, but repeated his lack of current interest.
With that balloon popped, we move on.
One Republican strategist this morning noted the importance of the timing of Linder’s announcement. The end of March marks the end of the first quarter federal disclosure period for campaign contributions.
So the first fund-raising numbers for candidates to replace Linder will be made public in mid-April, letting us know who – at least in financial terms – are the most viable. So the sprint may be even shorter than the July primary date implies.
The names currently in the mix this morning:
– A Web page has been set up by Seth Weathers in an attempt to generate buzz for long-time Gwinnett County Sheriff Butch Conway. Says Weathers on www.draftbutchconway.com:
Conway will be a strong reasoned voice for the FairTax to continue the fight Congressman Linder started.
Sheriff Conway has been a national voice for illegal immigration enforcement, doing so through implementing 287g in Gwinnett County. He has drastically reduced the number of illegal immigrants in our county.
– Don Balfour (R-Snellville), the chairman of the state Senate Rules Committee and a Waffle House executive;
– Ralph Reed, the former head of the national Christian Coalition and ex-chairman of the Georgia GOP. The Gwinnett County resident lost a 2006 primary race for lieutenant governor to Casey Cagle.;
–State Sen. David Shafer (R-Duluth), who – this time last year – was engaged in an all-out race for lieutenant governor. He suspended his campaign when Cagle, anticipating back surgery, abandoned his 2010 plans to run for governor;
– Chuck Efstration, chairman of the Gwinnett County Republican Party and assistant district attorney;
– State Rep. Tom Rice (R-Norcross);
– State Rep. Clay Cox (R-Lilburn).
If you know of anyone else, we’d like hear.
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