Veteran Rep. John Linder (R-Ga.), an early ally of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and an outspoken fiscal conservative, announced Saturday he was retiring.
Linder disclosed his decision at a Republican breakfast in his district, and party officials in Washington confirmed the news.
The 18-year congressman represents a heavily Republican seat in the sprawling suburbs east of Atlanta that is very likely to stay in GOP hands.
Potential candidates to replace Linder include former Georgia GOP Chairman and onetime Christian Coalition Director Ralph Reed, longtime state Sen. Don Balfour and state Sen. David Shafer, a former state party executive director who previously had considered a bid for lieutenant governor. Each hails from Gwinnett County, the population center of the district.
Other prospective candidates include state Rep. Clay Cox and Doug MacGinnitie, a Sandy Springs City Council member currently running for secretary of state.
Another name that's come up is former Secretary of State Karen Handel, who lives just outside the district and is currently running for the GOP gubernatorial nomination but has raised little money. On Saturday afternoon, however, Handel's consultant said she would stay in the governor's race.
"Karen is not going to run for Linder's seat," said Dan McLagan.The Georgia primary is not until July 20; the filing deadline is April 30.
Linder’s retirement marks the end of a House career that once seemed to carry great promise. Elected in 1992, two years before his party captured control of Congress, the Georgian was a key lieutenant when his colleague from Cobb County became speaker.
Part of me just died. As a lifelong FairTax proponent, Linder will be missed by me and all other FairTaxers that have stood behind him for his service to us. He will be missed deeply. Your thoughts.