A grandson of former President Jimmy Carter announced Thursday he is running for governor of Georgia, an office his grandfather held on his path to the White House.
State Sen. Jason Carter told the Atlanta Journal Constitution
Wednesday he would challenge Republican Gov. Nathan Deal next year — testing the GOP's 12-year grip on the red state's top office — and made it official Thursday.
Republican Mitt Romney won 53 percent of the Georgia vote in the 2012 presidential election, and Republicans hold a majority in the state legislature.
Carter, a 38-year-old lawyer and former Peace Corps volunteer, said he hadn't talked with his famous grandfather about campaigning with him, but said name recognition will help.
"It will let people know the kind of family that I come from," he said. "Ultimately, they're going to have to judge me on my merits. But I certainly think it gives people a point of reference."
Carter told the newspaper his grandfather canvassed with him before his 2010 election.
“He’s my grandfather and he cares about me and we talk,” the younger Carter said. “But at the end of the day, this campaign will be about getting Georgia back to where it needs to be. It’s about the future and not my family.”
The younger Carter said he'd focus on education, ethics and the return of trust in government.
“We want a Georgia that’s at its best,” Carter said. “And Georgia at its best invests in education, it doesn’t cut billions out of the classrooms, it has an economy that works for the middle class and it always has an honest government.”
The former president said in a statement Thursday he was excited about his grandson’s candidacy and that the state would “greatly benefit from a smart and fresh leader” with a focus on education, the economy and transparency.
Carter, 38, is the second high-profile Democratic scion to compete for a spot on Georgia’s 2014 ticket. Senate candidate Michelle Nunn, daughter of former Sen. Sam Nunn
, is the Democratic front-runner in a crowded contest to replace retiring Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss.
Carter faces more than GOP dominance in state politics; Deal has already amassed a campaign war chest of over $1 million, the newspaper noted.
Deal spokesman Brian Robinson said Thursday the governor intends to focus on “keeping Georgia the No. 1 place to do business,” but didn't specifically address Carter's entry in the race.
John Barge, the state's school superintendent, and David Pennington, mayor of Dalton, Ga., are challenging Deal in the Republican primary.
No other Democrats have announced plans to run for governor. Meanwhile, national Democrats are lining up to support Carter's campaign, Politico reported
"If any Democrat can win in Georgia, and we think we can, it's Jason Carter," said Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin, chairman of the Democratic Governors Association.
Reuters contributed to this report.
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