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Cagle’s exploratory committee has statewide flair

Chestnut Mountain resident, lieutenant governor, is considering run for governor

POSTED: September 20, 2008 5:00 a.m.

An official registration of his campaign for governor filed last week reveals that Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle has tapped business leaders from central and coastal Georgia for the top campaign positions.

Charles K. Tarbutton, assistant vice president of the Sandersville Railroad Co., is chairman of Georgians for Cagle, the official name for the gubernatorial campaign committee.

Tarbutton, who was a supporter of Cagle in his 2006 bid for lieutenant governor, is also current chairman of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce.

"He comes from an outstanding family in Sandersville," said Doug Carter, a Gainesville real estate executive who first met Tarbutton in the 1994 class of Leadership Georgia.

"The entire family has been politically active for years, and they are well known throughout the state of Georgia," Carter said.

A cousin, Ben Tarbutton, serves on the University System Board of Regents.

Named as treasurer is Steve Croy of Richmond Hill, just outside Savannah.

Croy was a finance chairman for Cagle’s 2006 campaign. He served as finance chairman for former U.S. Sen. Fred Thompson’s campaign in Georgia. He now serves on the state advisory committee for Republican nominee John McCain.

Croy is a board member of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce.

"He’s been active in politics for quite a while," said Larry Peterson, political reporter for the Savannah Morning News.

Croy has been mentioned as a potential candidate for the state Senate seat currently held by Eric Johnson, a Republican senator who is planning a bid for lieutenant governor.

In his 2006 campaign, Cagle relied heavily on his legislative colleagues. State Sen. Eugene "Chip" Pearson was chairman of his campaign while state Rep. James Mills, like Cagle a Republican from Chestnut Mountain, served as treasurer.

The only other Republican in the race, Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine, holds the post of chairman and treasurer of his own campaign committee for governor. Oxendine held the same posts in his campaign for his current office and for his brief run for lieutenant governor.

Cagle announced last week that he was forming an exploratory committee for a potential bid for governor in 2010. Under Georgia law, a campaign committee has to be registered with the State Ethics Commission before funds can be accepted.

The lieutenant governor said his current focus would be on addressing the state budget shortfall, estimated at $1.6 billion, and that he would talk about his political future after the 2009 session of the General Assembly.

Some political observers believe Cagle’s fundraising activities will not begin in earnest until after the general election, so as not to syphon off funds from Republican candidates in contested races.

In that scenario, he would have a window of about two months to raise money for the 2010 bid. Under Georgia law, elected state officials cannot accept campaign contributions during the legislative session.



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