Politics

Jimmy Carter's Grandson Running for Georgia Governor

November 8, 2013

Democratic state Sen. Jason Carter will challenge Gov. Nathan Deal next year in a move that catapults the gubernatorial contest into the national spotlight and tests whether Georgia’s changing demographics can loosen the Republican Party’s 12-year grip on the state’s highest office.

Carter’s decision, which he announced Wednesday in an exclusive interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, is another step along the trail forged by his famous grandfather Jimmy Carter, who was elected to the state Senate and then the Governor’s Mansion before winning the presidency.

“We can’t wait as a state,” said Jason Carter, who formally announced his candidacy Thursday. “The bottom line is we can’t afford four more years of an economy that’s not working for the middle class and an education system that’s underfunded. It’s not about politics. It’s about making sure we can get the state that we need.”

Carter, 38, becomes the second high-profile Democratic scion to compete for a spot on Georgia’s 2014 ticket. Senate candidate Michelle Nunn, the daughter of former U.S. Sen. Sam Nunn, is her party’s front-runner in the crowded contest to replace retiring Republican U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss.

Carter, who is not stepping down from office, pitches himself as a fiscal conservative who will revamp an education funding system he derides as a “shell game” and restore trust in the government. The latter is a subtle nod to allegations by current and former ethics commission staffers that Deal’s office improperly interfered with the agency probing complaints against him.

“We want a Georgia that’s at its best,” Carter said. “And Georgia at its best invests in education, it doesn’t cut billions out of the classrooms, it has an economy that works for the middle class and it always has an honest government.”

Carter faces the task of convincing voters who have elected Republicans to every statewide office that Democrats are worthy of a return to power. He’ll be forced to confront questions about whether it’s too soon for a gubernatorial bid in a state that gave Mitt Romney a resounding victory just last year. And he must try to keep pace with Deal, who has hit the fundraising circuit to boost the $1.1 million he had in his campaign coffers in July.

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