Race for Georgia governor takes shape three years out

Updated: 9:59 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2015 By Greg Bluestein - The Atlanta Journal-…

Georgia (Sep 10, 2015)Updated: 9:59 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2015

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http://www.myajc.com/news/news/state-regional-govt-politics/race-for-georgia-governor-takes-shape-three-years-/nnYYJ/

By Greg Bluestein - The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The next governor’s race is a long ways off, but the campaign for the state’s top job is well underway.

At least a half-dozen influential Republicans and three high-profile Democrats are mulling a run for the state’s top job in 2018. Some are already lining up staffers, calling donors and holding quiet meetings with their allies to gauge their chances of succeeding Gov. Nathan Deal, who cannot run for a third consecutive term.

Republicans hope to maintain their grip on an office they’ve held since 2002, but some worry about the prospect of a bloody primary battle. Across the aisle, there’s an equal amount of fidgeting as three of the Democratic Party’s rising stars circle each other.

And there’s always a chance another name, perhaps a relative unknown, emerges between now and 2018. After all, three years before the 2010 campaign, Deal was a low-profile congressman from Gainesville who was hardly mentioned as a contender for governor.

One candidate — Libertarian Doug Craig — has already announced, even though there’s more than three years to go before the vote. …

Everyone is on Kasim watch’

Democrats cleared the field in 2014 to let Jason Carter, then a state senator and a grandson of former President Jimmy Carter, run for governor. But he probably won’t have another cakewalk to his party’s nomination if he decides to run again.

Carter returned to private practice after his loss to Deal, but he’s a constant presence at Democratic fundraisers and local civic events. He’s also about to get a boost in his national profile in November when he becomes the chairman of the Carter Center, his grandfather’s international civil rights group.

Stacey Abrams is also seen as a top contender. The Yale-educated attorney and author is the top Democrat in the state House. She’s also the driving force behind the New Georgia Project, which aims to register hundreds of thousands of new left-leaning voters to cut into the GOP advantage in Georgia.

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed is the biggest subject of speculation. The mayor finishes his second term in office in early 2018, and he has become a national spokesman for the party on the talk show circuit and a key surrogate for Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid.

“Everyone is on Kasim watch,” said Kerwin Swint, a Kennesaw State University political scientist. “But winning statewide in a general election will still be very tough in 2018 for any Democrat.”


 

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