Sam Olens’ likely ascension to the presidency of Kennesaw State University has painted a juicy target on whomever Gov. Nathan Deal is set to appoint as his successor.
As our AJC colleagues Aaron Gould Sheinin and Eric Stirgus reported, the Capitol buzz has centered on Chris Carr as a top contender for the seat. Carr is the state economic development commissioner and former top aide to Sen. Johnny Isakson who has never before held public elected office.
You can be sure that several other Republicans are likely to take a run at him in a primary, namely state Sen. Josh McKoon, who made a name championing ethics reform and the “religious liberty” bill – and generally being a thorn in the GOP establishment’s side.
But now there are rumblings from the other side of the aisle. State Rep. Stacey Evans, a Smyrna Democrat considered a rising star in her party, said she’s open to a run for the state’s top law job. Recall that Evans was recruited by Washington Democrats to run against Isakson this year before taking a pass.
"It is something I don't rule out and will consider whether I can be effective at helping our state in that role. I’ve spent a large part of my private practice advocating for the taxpayer against fraud and abuse,” she said. “But right now, my main focus is my campaign, and the working families of District 42."
Evans is the go-to Democrat in the House on the push to restore funding that had been cut from the state’s HOPE scholarship program. The Ringgold native is also the first in her family to graduate from college, and she used her share in a massive whistleblower settlement she helped litigate to create a $500,000 scholarship for first-generation graduates at the University of Georgia’s law school.
She's not the only potential Democratic contender for the seat. Other names being mentioned include Ken Hodges, the former Dougherty County prosecutor who was defeated by Olens in 2010, and Lester Tate, the one-time chair of the Judicial Qualifications Commission.