WASHINGTON -- Don't count retiring U.S. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland out of the wide-open race for governor in 2018.
The Coweta County Republican, who is wrapping up his 12-year stint on Capitol Hill this week, said he has been traveling around the state on a "reconnect tour" to gauge interest. He plans to continue the rounds in the months ahead.
“It’s definitely something that we talk to people about every day," Westmoreland said in an interview Monday on Capitol Hill .
“Running for governor to me is not just ‘ok, I’m running for governor.’ I want to make sure I’ve got the viability, I want to make sure I’m doing it for all the right reasons and then I’ll make a decision," he said.
That decision won't likely come until after the 2017 legislative session, Westmoreland said, in part out of respect to Gov. Nathan Deal, his pal and former colleague.
"I don’t want somebody coming up and going, ‘oh, well the governor vetoed this bill or the governor said he’s going to do this. What would you have done?’ I don’t want to get into that,” he said.
In the meantime, Westmoreland and a handful of remaining staffers have been relegated to shared workspace in a Capitol Hill basement, a ritual that plays out with retiring members every two years to make room for the new crop of congressmen.
He's been evicted from his officespace, which doubled as his sleeping quarters for the last eight years. He says he's been relying on an Airbnb for his remaining days in D.C.
“It’s kind of like going to rehab,” Westmoreland said of his last few weeks on Capitol Hill, “because up here every 15 minutes you’ve got a group coming in to talk to you or you’ve gotta be in a meeting and there’s not a whole lot of time to be concentrating on any one thing.”
“I have to learn to relax," he said with a laugh.