Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle took the initial steps on Tuesday to begin a bid for governor in 2010.
The Chestnut Mountain Republican announced formation of an exploratory campaign committee and began the process that will allow him to accept campaign contributions.
In deference to the current state budget crisis, Cagle quietly shared his decision with his hometown newspaper, The Times.
"I am strongly considering a run for governor in 2010, and today we filed paperwork to begin that process by forming an exploratory committee," Cagle said. "We did this in order to ensure every step we take is fully in compliance with the campaign disclosure requirements of Georgia law. In the months between now and the legislative session, our steering committee will be actively working to build a sound financial and organizational footing for future campaigns."
Cagle’s decision had been expected, but the subtlety of the announcement came as a surprise."There is a time for a robust and public gubernatorial debate and that time is not now," Cagle said. "Our state faces a budget crisis of historical proportions and as lieutenant governor, I will be spending the majority of my time this year preparing for the difficult task of balancing our budget, blocking tax increases and cutting wasteful spending."
Cagle will not make a formal campaign announcement or discuss the 2010 campaign until after the 2009 session of the General Assembly.
"There will be plenty of time to talk about the 2010 campaign after the session is over," he said.
A six-term state senator, Cagle surprised many within his own party by handily defeating former Christian Coalition director Ralph Reed in the 2006 GOP primary for lieutenant governor. A lopsided victory in the general election over Democrat Jim Martin catapulted Cagle into office.
Known for his calm demeanor, Cagle has clashed with both House Speaker Glenn Richardson, R-Hiram, and Gov. Sonny Perdue over issues ranging from taxes to budgets. As presiding officer, he is a strong presence in the body where he served for 12 years.
Philip Wilheit, a Gainesville civic leader who has been a Cagle supporter since his first bid for the state Senate in 1994, told The Times he will be a member of the exploratory committee.
"I’m excited about it," Wilheit said. "Right now, Casey is the man for the job. I don’t know anybody that has the experience he does. We’re in a budget crisis right now and that’s what he’s going to be concentrating on."
Wilheit said there is great advantage and prestige to being the hometown of a governor.
"Obviously there are things a governor can do for his area that even a lieutenant governor can’t," Wilheit said. "I think it would be beneficial to our community."
Cagle joins Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine, who has announced his plans to seek the GOP nomination for governor in 2010. Former Georgia Adjutant General David Poythress, who also served as Secretary of State and Labor Commissioner, is the only announced Democrat in the race.
Cagle, a seventh generation Hall Countian, is a graduate of Johnson High School and is married to the former Nita Pinson. They have three sons, Jared, Grant and Carter.