Jon Richards, a staple of the Georgia statehouse press corps and conservative politics, died Sunday of complications of cancer. He was 61.
Perhaps Jon’s most lasting achievement was his mentorship of dozens of teen and college age students interested in politics. Jon devoted countless hours developing meaningful relationships with those desiring to be future leaders, helping them understand the current role of politics and politicians. He, in turn, spent as much time listening as he did teaching. As such, he learned about them, and is one of the state’s foremost experts on millennial trends affecting Georgia Republican politics today.
We can proudly echo that. Jon was a committed student of politics, a friend and mentor to politicians from both sides of the aisle, and a must-read for Georgia politicos. As frontpage editor of Peach Pundit and later editor in chief of GeorgiaPol.com, he was a tireless chronicler of the state's fast-moving political scene. And he never seemed to miss a moment.
Anyone who wanted to understand conservative politics under the Gold Dome, from the inner workings of policy proposals or subtle shifts in rhetoric and messaging, turned to Jon for insight and clarity.
And boy did he love it. He gladly sat through hours of speechifying at the General Assembly, organized countless GOP events across the state, and snapped thousands of pictures at gatherings and committee meetings with the handy camera that always seemed to dangle around his neck. Always, he was ready with a quick smile, a snappy aside or a pithy tweet.
About the only time we saw him struggle for words was at the Georgia GOP's 2015 convention, when Jon was named the party's volunteer of the year. He beamed for days after that award.
"He is the first to arrive and the last to leave and is always there to do a little more if needed," former state Rep. Ed Lindsey wrote at the time.
As his cancer grew worse, Georgia's political class united to show him their love. At a visit to his hospital in early January, a steady stream of friends and readers came to see him, hold his hands and tell him he was cared for. He hated to admit it, but he was worried he wouldn't be able to follow the legislative session from his hospital bed.
He made one last visit to the statehouse in late February, escorted by Harper and other friends. He met with Gov. Nathan Deal, took pictures with the Capitol press corps and couldn't move an inch without well wishers sending him their love.
And before he passed, his friends were able to tell him about one last honor.
In the Georgia Senate, the Gwinnett delegation introduced Senate Resolution 539 on Friday. It praised him as a devoted family man, an expert pumpkin carver, an accomplished entrepreneur and a selfless volunteer.
It ended by bestowing one final award on the Ohio-born politico, who left an indelible mark on the state he's called home for three decades: it proclaimed him an "honorary native Georgian."