The state lawmaker, attorney, and grandson of former President Jimmy Carter filed his paperwork this morning with the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission inside the James "Sloppy" Floyd Veteran Memorial Building. His decision was somewhat expected following several months of political rumors that included internal polls and political Twitter handles.
Carter, a Candler Park resident, briefly spoke with a herd of reporters after filing his paperwork. Flanked by his wife and two children, he briefly touched on three issues that will serve as his platform: education, economy, and ethics.
"I'm running for governor because I believe in Georgia at its best," Carter told reporters. "Georgia at its best has an education system that it's invested in. We don't cut a billion dollars from our classrooms. Georgia at its best has an economy that works for the middle class. Georgia at its best always has an honest government that works for everyone and not just good political donors or well-placed friends."
Deal so far has picked up two opponents - Dalton Mayor David Pennington and Georgia Schools Superintendent John Barge - in the state's GOP primary next June.
Carter, who was first elected in 2009, points to his legislative accomplishments under the Gold Dome. He says he's fought for public schools, helped make higher education more affordable, supported ethics reforms, and tried to boost small businesses.
Today's announcement makes Carter the second high-profile Democratic candidate to enter the fray for a statewide elected position. Back in July, political newcomer Michelle Nunn, a nonprofit executive and daughter of former U.S. Sen. Sam Nunn, decided to test the waters against a crowded Republican field that includes U.S. Rep. Paul Broun, R-Athens; U.S. Rep. Phil Gingrey, R-Marietta; U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Savannah; former Georgia Secretary of State and gubernatorial candidate Karen Handel; and veteran businessman David Perdue.
Former President Carter expressed support for his grandson and said that the state would "greatly benefit from a smart and fresh leader focused on improving our schools, creating opportunities for a more prosperous middle class and restoring a sense of trust and transparency back to state government."
"[My wife Rosalynn and I] believe that Jason has done great things for Georgians through his service in the state Senate and volunter work throughout the state," the former president and Georgia governor said in a statement.
Mayor Kasim Reed, who political pundits view as a possible contender for statewide office once he finishes his second term in 2017, wished the state lawmaker well on his gubernatorial campaign. He offered few details what potential role, if any, he would play as campaign supporter.
"He has served ably in the Georgia State Senate," Reed tells CL. "His candidacy, along with that of Michelle Nunn for U.S. Senate, is a sign of the growing energy and enthusiasm within the Democratic Party in Georgia. I look forward to 2014."
Carter won't be stepping down from his Gold Dome position as he raises funds and makes campaign speeches in the coming months. Expect all eyes on what the lawmaker proposes during the 2014 legislative session - and prepare for what's sure to become a nationally watched political race.
NOTE: This story was updated to include additional information, including former President Carter's and Mayor Reed's remarks.
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