Democrat Stacey Evans resigned her state House seat on Tuesday to focus on her bid for governor, the latest in a string of candidates for higher office to step down from a statehouse post.
In a letter to Gov. Nathan Deal and legislative leaders, the Smyrna attorney said she has "stood up for the voiceless, spoken out for change and held firm against retreat" while working across party lines since her 2010 election.
"It was my honor to represent the people of my district, but it is time that my place is taken by another," she wrote. "It is with a heavy heart, but with an enthusiastic eye to the future that I tender my resignation from the Georgia House of Representatives."
She is the third gubernatorial candidate to step down in recent weeks to concentrate on a campaign to succeed Deal. Republican state Sen. Hunter Hill and state Rep. Stacey Abrams, who once led the chamber's Democratic caucus, both resigned in late August.
Republican state Rep. Geoff Duncan, one of three GOP office-holders running for lieutenant governor, also earlier resigned his seat. More moves could soon be coming: The window is fast-closing for lawmakers to step down while still ensuring a special election will be held this year.
It's not an easy decision. The legislative session gives candidates a powerful pulpit to command attention and push their campaign priorities — and a daily opportunity to get in front of a legion of roaming TV cameras to raise their profiles.
But remaining in office also has significant drawbacks. State legislators and constitutional officers can’t raise campaign money during the 40-day legislative session, which spans from January through March and possibly longer, and every day at the Capitol means less time meeting voters or stumping at events.
The other three leading GOP candidates for office - Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, Secretary of State Brian Kemp and state Sen. Michael Williams - have all said they intend to remain in office.
Evans represents a Democratic-leaning district that hugs I-75 as it stretches through parts of Smyrna and east Cobb County. She captured almost three-quarters of the vote in November to defeat a little-known Republican.
Deal set the special election to replace Evans for Nov. 7, the same day as other city and county races. One candidate has already filed paperwork to run for the seat: Smyrna Mayor Pro Tem Teri Anulewicz, a Democrat and long-time public affairs specialist.
Read Evans' resignation letter:
Dear Governor Deal, Speaker Ralston, Minority Leader Trammell, and my esteemed House Colleagues:
I didn’t think leaving a place I was never supposed to be would be so hard. But it certainly is.
The odds that I would have the opportunity to serve our great state in the Legislature were long. I didn’t grow up in a political household. My parents didn’t go to college, and mom didn’t even graduate high school. To say we struggled would be quite an understatement. I knew the State Capitol was where decisions were made that affected lives, but my life couldn’t have been farther from it.
Or so I thought. It was a decision made in this building that opened the door for me to be here.
I write of HOPE. The HOPE scholarship lifted me out of Ringgold and set me down in Athens, thus beginning a life’s journey that led me to the Capitol. This letter serves to close this chapter of my life. But I don’t expect it to be the last chapter that will be written under the Gold Dome, by me or by you.
For seven years, I have served alongside you and have fought for children and for seniors, for teachers and for students, and for survivors and for soldiers. I have stood up for the voiceless, spoken out for change, and held firm against retreat, and at times laid campaigning down at the doors to work with people of good will in both parties to make Georgians’ lives better.
It was my honor to represent the people of my district, but it is time that my place is taken by another. It is with a heavy heart, but with an enthusiastic eye to the future that I tender my resignation from the Georgia House of Representatives.
But I do not drop my burden as I exit this place. I carry it with me because Georgians deserve someone who will fight for them—someone who knows what it is like to be counted out and told they don’t belong.
People who sat in this Capitol fought for me when they created the HOPE scholarship, and now I’m fighting for those that have come behind me and all those still in need of a champion. They are the reason I came down here, and they are the reason I continue to fight.
Thank you for your friendship, your respect, and your will to serve.
Should the citizens of this great state decide that I am fit to return to Atlanta to represent them as their Governor, I give my word that I will work with the members of good will to continue the work Georgia families deserve.
God bless you. And from my heart, thank you.