Republican Rick Jeffares said Friday he will resign his state Senate seat to focus on his campaign for lieutenant governor.
The McDonough businessman said his campaign has "taken off more quickly than I expected" and that he can't imagine juggling work at the state Legislature with his bid for Georgia's No. 2 job.
He endorsed state Rep. Brian Strickland to fill his conservative-leaning seat in a special election, which is likely to be held early next year.
Jeffares faces two major Republicans in his bid to succeed Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, who is running for governor. Senate Pro Tem David Shafer, the race's leading fundraiser, has said he won't resign because he intends "to do the job I was elected to do." Geoff Duncan stepped down from his House seat earlier this year.
State Democrats still haven't recruited a high-profile candidate to run, though several newcomers have filed paperwork.
Jeffares joined several other office-seekers who stepped down before next year's session. Democratic lawmakers Stacey Abrams and Stacey Evans, who are running for governor, submitted their resignations months ago. So did former state Sen. Hunter Hill, who is also seeking the GOP gubernatorial nod.
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Here is Jeffares' full statement:
“Georgia faces big challenges in cutting tuition costs, expanding technical education and getting value out of our taxpayer dollars and I am going to focus 100% on addressing these challenges as Lt. Governor and as a candidate. This campaign has taken off more quickly than I expected and there are so many requests to hear our message and exchange ideas that I can’t imagine being able to do this while still representing my district the way my constituents deserve.”
“I’m excited about Georgia’s future and believe that our citizens deserve a full-time candidate for the full-time job of Lt. Governor,” Rick added. “The 17th district also deserves full-time representation, and Brian Strickland has my full faith and endorsement.”