Former U.S. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland said Wednesday he is not running for Georgia governor, a day after a campaign surfaced trying to draft him to enter the wide-open 2018 field.
In a statement to the AJC, Westmoreland said “the best contribution that I can make to our state is outside of elected office.” He added that he looks forward to “doing all I can to support the Republican nominee for governor and the entire Republican ticket in 2018.”
One of the most colorful personalities in Georgia politics, the Coweta County Republican embarked on a “reconnect tour” after his decision last year not to run for another term in Congress. And he said recently he talked with his wife Joan “pretty much on a daily basis” about the race.
Westmoreland would have spiced up the governor’s race: The six-term congressman has a long history of remarkably candid comments that's at the heart of his appeal to voters.
The recruiting effort – complete with a DraftWestmoreland.com website and petition – seemed to spur Westmoreland’s announcement. It avowed Westmoreland would overhaul the tax code, improve the education system and make Georgia’s transportation system the “envy of the country.”
Three Republicans are already in the race – Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, Secretary of State Brian Kemp and state Sen. Hunter Hill – and more are considering a run. Several Democrats also are likely to enter the contest, including House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams and state Rep. Stacey Evans.
Here’s Westmoreland's full statement:
"After much prayer and consideration, Joan and I have decided that I will not be a candidate for governor in 2018. While I am humbled by the kind words and encouragement that we have received from so many over the last few months, I think the best contribution that I can make to our state is outside of elected office. I’ve always thought of public service as a noble cause and it was truly an honor of a lifetime to represent so many hard working Georgians for so many years in both in the legislature and then later in congress. I look forward to doing all I can to support the Republican nominee for Governor and the entire Republican ticket in 2018."