While he hasn’t announced his candidacy, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle told Hall County educators on Thursday that if he was living at the governor’s mansion, his children would still go to school here.
"People ask me, ‘Casey, if you’re at the mansion, are your kids still going to be in the Hall County school system?’" Cagle said. "I want you to know right now, absolutely yes. Even if we have to bring a helicopter."
The lieutenant governor was the speaker at a luncheon for new teachers in the Hall system. The remark about his children was the only time he alluded to a possible bid for governor in 2010.
However, in an interview with The Times, Cagle’s answers sounded typical for a candidate for the state’s top job.
"Making a run for lieutenant governor was a huge decision, and you have to talk to a lot of people around the state and get the support. It’s no different for governor. There’s a lot of pressure with people calling up and asking me to run."
Cagle said the announcement by U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., that he would not be a candidate for governor was a pivotal point and put additional pressure on him to consider the race.
He said he will make a decision in the next couple of months.
"When you look at the session and the times you can’t raise money, you realize gubernatorial races are very, very expensive. You’re going to have to start the process sooner, rather than later," Cagle said.
Under Georgia law, state elected officials cannot raise campaign money while the General Assembly is in session.
Cagle estimated he would have to raise $10 million for a bid for governor. Two years ago, Cagle raised $4.7 million in his race for lieutenant governor.
The only announced candidate in the race for governor is Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine.
Meanwhile, Cagle said while he is concerned about declining state revenues, he said it is not time to panic.
"I don’t want to create any alarm around the state," Cagle said. "We will come through this (budget situation), and we will come through it better than most states because of our diversity in taxation. The economy is struggling and revenues are certainly down, but we have a significant amount in reserve. But when revenues fall off, you can never have enough."
Cagle said he hopes that education is "off the table" in terms of possible cuts.
"We need to make our commitment to our children for the future," he said.
He said that the amended state budget will involve additional cuts. "There won’t be any adds," Cagle said. "We’ve got to cut $1.6 billion out of the state budget and you’re taking K through 12 education off the table; we’re looking at 6 percent cuts everywhere else."
In his remarks to the new teachers, Cagle reiterated many of his themes, including the charter school systems program, which will be implemented in Gainesville for the first time this year.
Cagle told the teachers they have the ability to affect the world through their students.
"You never know who that one little person is going to be," he said. "Maybe the next president of the United States, maybe another eminent scholar, maybe the person who finds the cure for cancer."