Monday, January 4, 2010

Cole out, Kemp in for Sec. State

It's official: Jim Cole has pulled a reverse Urban Meyer, and won't be Georgia's next secretary of state after all. This will be up on the main site shortly:
Middle Georgia state Rep. Jim Cole, R-Forsyth, won't be Georgia's next secretary of state after all.

Cole was going to be announced today as Gov. Sonny Perdue's appointment to replace Secretary of State Karen Handel, who is leaving office to focus on her gubernatorial run. But he withdrew his name from consideration over the weekend and now former State Sen. Brian Kemp will be the governor's choice.

Kemp is one of several candidates running to replace Handel full time and the governor's choice gives him a leg up, particularly over fellow Republican candidate Doug MacGinnitie, who is a city councilman in Sandy Springs.

Cole was going to enter that race, too, but decided instead to withdraw from politics and remain in Monroe County working for his alma mater, Mercer University. He will serve out his term as District 125 state representative, but not run for re-election later this year, he said.

Cole's move to the secretary of state's office, and the 2010 campaign to keep it, seemed assured late last week. He confirmed that he was the governor's choice after media reports, citing unnamed sources, reported so. But a weekend of soul searching changed things, he said.

"I, literally, went in my little boy's room 15 times Saturday night," Cole said Monday afternoon. "And I just, it was ... something inside of me talking to me that I needed to re-evaluate."

Cole said politics has been "consuming me" in recent years. He said the "competitive juices" will probably draw him back in one day, but not "until I get my children prepared for success."
Obviously this doesn't satisfy the "Gov. Perdue is meddling in the 2010 secretary of state election" crowd. And I imagine some will question Rep. Cole's motives. For the record, though, I have no reason to do anything but take this at face value.

Update: Doug MacGinnitie's campaign sent this out earlier today. Presumably it holds, except for the welcoming Jim Cole part:
"I entered this race nearly a year ago because I think the office of the Secretary of State is vitally important, and I know that I can serve Georgia and add value in that position for the next four years. I certainly respect the Governor's decision making process, but his decision has not changed the reasons I entered the race.

I would like to thank the Republican grassroots and statewide business community for their countless calls of encouragement and support over the weekend - they have been humbling and motivating. I welcome Jim Cole to the primary process and look forward to seeing him on the campaign trail."

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