Republican Rep. Nathan Deal announced Monday that he will resign from Congress to focus on competing for his party's nomination for governor of Georgia.
"Having entered the campaign to become the next Governor of Georgia, I have worked very hard to balance the responsibilities of my current office with the demands of sharing my vision for the state," Deal said in a statement. "I firmly believe that now is the season for me to devote my full energies to the campaign for governor."
Deal is fighting for the GOP's gubernatorial nomination against state Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine and former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel, among other contenders. He plans to step down in one week, according to his office, on March 8.
Republican Gov. Sonny Perdue will have 10 days after Deal resigns to call a special election to fill his vacant seat. That election can take place one month or more after the governor's announcement, and some expect it to take place on Georgia's existing July 20 primary date to save costs.
A group of candidates is already off and running for Deal's seat, since the congressman previously announced his plans to retire to run for governor. State Rep. Tom Graves, state Sen. Lee Hawkins, cardiologist Chris Cates and Chickamauga City Councilman Steve Tarvin are all running for the GOP nomination in the northwest Georgia district.
Deal's district is one of the most conservative in the country and gave John McCain 75 percent of the vote in 2008. The congressman's decision follows closely on his fellow Georgia Republican John Linder's weekend announcement that he will retire at the end of his current House term.
I'm surprised. I thought for sure Deal would stay in Congress until he served out his term. This will only give Oxendine ammunition against Deal. It helps Ox because he can attack him for putting his interests before the state. To me, he comes off as a political opportunist for this. Oxendine, however, has not resigned and is doing the job that the people elected him to do. This proves Ox can multitask, and that Deal can’t. He has been proven servant to the State of Georgia for 16 years. Deal has been for 18 as a Country Club GOP Congressman. Ox has run a small business, Deal hasn’t to my knowledge. Ox has proven himself to be the real Conservative in the race, while Deal is one of these people that loses his soul when a Republican is President and finds it when a Democrat is President. Here’s where Ox stands on the issues and his solutions to the problems: http://www.redstate.com/se779/2009/09/08/why-i-am-supporting-john-oxendine-for-ga-gov/ . In the end, I seen no real option besides Ox, but that’s just me. Your thoughts.