U.S. Rep. Nathan Deal, R-Gainesville, is expected to announce Friday that he will jump into the governor’s race, sources say.
Mr. Deal’s spokesman, Chris Riley, did not return calls or an e-mail seeking comment Wednesday.
Sue Everhart, chairwoman of the Georgia Republican Party, said she couldn’t officially confirm Rep. Deals’ candidacy, but did say the nine-term congressman “would make a very good candidate.”
“Nathan has enjoyed a good reputation in Georgia for a number of years,” she said.
InsiderAdvantage Georgia, an online site edited by longtime Georgia political reporter Dick Pettys, reported Wednesday that Rep. Deal “reportedly will have the backing of (state) House Speaker Glenn Richardson and several other top House Republicans.”
Marshall Guest, a spokesman for Rep. Richardson, R-Hiram, said the speaker has not yet endorsed any gubernatorial candidate.
Joe McCutchen, a conservative commentator in Ellijay, Ga., said he also could not confirm whether Rep. Deal was running. He did say, however, that he has spoken with state Rep. Tom Graves, R-Ranger, about the possibility of Rep. Graves running for Rep. Deal’s congressional seat.
The Gainesville Times, Rep. Deal’s hometown newspaper, this week floated the names of other potential successors.
They include Sen. Jeff Mullis, R-Chickamauga, who did not return a call Wednesday.
Others were Sen. Chip Pearson, R-Dawsonville; former state Rep. Mike Evans, of Cumming, and former state Sen. Bill Stephens, of Canton. Another potential successor could be former U.S. Rep. Max Burns, R-Ga., Mr. McCutchen said.
Republicans already in the governor’s race are state Sen. Eric Johnson, R-Savannah; Secretary of State Karen Handel; Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine and state Rep. Austin Scott, R-Tifton.
Democrats who have said they will run include Attorney General Thurbert Baker, House Minority Leader DuBose Porter, D-Dublin, and former Georgia National Guard Commander David Poythress.
Former Gov. Roy Barnes, also a Democrat, has said he’ll decide whether to run by June 1.