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Native son could be first Hall Countian to lead state in 108 years

POSTED: September 14, 2008 5:02 a.m.
FILE PHOTO/The Times

Casey Cagle celebrates on Nov. 7, 2006, after he was elected lieutenant governor.

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Casey Cagle's political career began in 1994 when he ran what many considered an uphill race against first-term state Sen. Jane Hemmer, D-Gainesville.

Like Cagle, Hemmer had deep roots in Hall County, and had served as a county commissioner before running in 1992 for the Senate seat being vacated by Nathan Deal. Deal was elected that year to his first term in U.S. Congress.

Cagle, in his first run for elected office, defeated Hemmer 55 percent to 45 percent.

Surprisingly, it remains his most narrow victory to date.

In 2005, Cagle became the first announced GOP candidate for lieutenant governor. His announcement came as former Christian Coalition director Ralph Reed was testing the waters for the race.

"He (Reed) came by my office and visited with me and we had an opportunity to talk," Cagle told The Times in 2005. "He wanted to know if I was in the race, and I told him that I was. He wished me well and said that our paths may very well cross."

Cagle pulled a David vs. Goliath upset over Reed, who had ties to convicted Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

Cagle then coasted to a general election victory over Democratic contender Jim Martin to become the first Republican elected lieutenant governor. He was inaugurated Jan. 8, 2007.
With the approach of the 2008 general election, attention is already being focused on 2010. Gov. Sonny Perdue, who is in his second term, is constitutionally prohibited from seeking another term. Cagle's name has been mentioned prominently for more than a year as a potential successor to Perdue.

He is not alone.

Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine, who also ran briefly for lieutenant governor before bowing out, is running for governor. Oxendine already has raised $472,000 for his 2010 race.

Other Republicans mentioned as possible contenders include U.S. Reps. Phil Gingrey, Jack Kingston and Lynn Westmoreland. Other state officials rumored to be considering the race include Secretary of State Karen Handel and House Speaker Glenn Richardson.

Only one Democrat, former Lt. Gen. David Poythress, the former adjutant general of Georgia, has announced.

Outside of politics, Cagle has found success in business. After an injury ended his brief college football career, Cagle joined the family business, a bridal and formal wear store. He has invested successfully in real estate and was a founding director of Southern Heritage Bank, which later merged with GB&T Bancshares. Following GB&T's merger with SunTrust, he continues to serve on an advisory board for SunTrust in Gainesville.

If elected, Cagle would become the first governor from Hall County in 108 years.

The last was Gov. Allen Daniel Candler, who served as the state's chief executive from 1898 to 1902. Candler, who served heroically in the War Between the States, was wounded multiple times, including at Jonesboro, where he lost an eye.

He became known as "The one-eyed plowboy from Pigeon Roost."

In 1872, Candler served as mayor of Gainesville and a year later was elected to the state House of Representatives, where he served until 1877, when he became a state senator.

In 1883, Candler was elected to the U.S. House, where he served until 1891. Three years later, he was elected Secretary of State. He served two two-year terms as governor and advocated pensions for widows of Confederate veterans.

The community of Candler in Southeast Hall County is named for him, as is Candler County in Southeast Georgia.




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