Political Insider

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David Pennington on why 'politics is not real good for my income'

Former Dalton Mayor David Pennington released the last five years of his tax returns on Thursday. And it's clear the mayor's office didn't exactly help his bottom line.

The insurance executive, who is challenging Gov. Nathan Deal in the GOP primary next month, took in about $430,000 in 2009 and roughly tripled his take in 2010 after he sold one of his insurance firms.

But his income dwindled as his job as Dalton's mayor grew and he began campaigning around the state as a conservative reformer. His earnings the last three years hovered between $160,000 and $170,000.

Put simply, said Pennington, "politics is not real good for my income."

Pennington, who stepped down from the mayor's office in March, said he was reluctant to release his tax returns because he's a "very private person." He was essentially forced to do so at a bizarre press conference last week outside the governor's office.

That, in turn, led to Deal and Superintendent John Barge, another GOP contender, to pledge the same though they haven't detailed a timeline yet. No word yet on Democrat Jason Carter, though we expect him to follow suit.

Pennington, for his part, said he has nothing to hide.

"I've never filed for bankruptcy. I've never brought a company to bankruptcy," he said. "I'm an extremely private person. I'm sacrificing my privacy and I don't like that. But this state deserves better."

And what if he loses come May 20? Pennington said he'd go back to building businesses.

"I will never look back if I don't win," he said. "I'll never run again."

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About the Author

Greg Bluestein is a political reporter who covers the governor's office and state politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.