Deal cites leadership roles in launching campaign for governor
Among the 500 well-wishers at the kickoff of Nathan Deal’s bid for governor were a number of potential candidates to succeed him in the U.S. House.
Among them, former transportation board chairman Mike Evans, former U.S. Rep. Max Burns and state Sen. Chip Pearson, R-Dawsonville.
They were careful not to take away from Deal’s announcement. Evans announced his bid later in the day.
"This is Nathan’s day," said Pearson, who said he would be supporting Deal for governor. "I have confidence in him and am willing to roll up my sleeves, along with members of the Senate and House."
Burns, who served one term in the U.S. House, was defeated in a re-election bid in 2004.
In a comeback attempt in 2006, he spent $2 million in a race against U.S. Rep. John Barrow, D-Savannah. Barrow won the race by a razor-thin 864 votes, the narrowest margin for a Democratic incumbent.
Since that time, Burns accepted the position as dean of the business school at North Georgia College & State University in Dahlonega.
He was at Deal’s announcement on Friday and said he has not ruled out running for the seat.
"You know, you never say ‘never,’" Burns said.
Two other potential candidates had previous out-of-town engagements and were not present for Deal’s announcement.
State Rep. James Mills, R-Chestnut Mountain, was at a conference in Memphis and said, first and foremost, that he was supporting Deal.
"I’m excited that Nathan Deal has thrown his hat in the ring and will make a fine governor," Mills told The Times.
As to the race for Congress, Mills said he is pondering the future.
"Congressional seats don’t open up every day," he said, adding that among his considerations is that he has children ages 7, 13, 17 and 19, and knows the job in Washington would require him to be away from his family.
State Sen. Lee Hawkins, R-Gainesville, said he was still talking with his supporters at home and would make a decision soon.
Others possible candidates include state Sen. Jeff Mullis, R-Chickamauga; state Reps. Tom Graves, R-Ranger, and David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge; and former state Sen. Bill Stephens.