NEWNAN, Ga. — Former state Sen. Connie Stokes said Saturday that she will run for governor in 2014, the first Democratic candidate to enter the race as the field of challengers to Gov. Nathan Deal continues to grow.
Stokes, who served as floor leader for former Gov. Roy Barnes, said in an interview that she will be making a formal announcement in a few weeks and plans to campaign on improving education and creating high-paying jobs.
“I feel like now is the time,” said Stokes, 59, now a business management consultant from Lithonia. “I don’t think we can stand on the sidelines. We need a Democratic agenda, one that will create jobs that pay well, that focuses on our children and promotes a transparent and open government.”
Democrats have been searching for a candidate to challenge Deal, who already has two primary challengers. On Friday, state schools Superintendent John Barge, a Republican, announced he will be running for governor. Earlier, Dalton Mayor David Pennington said he would be challenging Deal.
Stokes served 10 years in the state Senate, and later was a DeKalb County commissioner. Senate Minority Leader Steve Henson, D-Tucker, said Stokes will be a knowledgeable and experienced candidate, but added he wouldn’t be surprised if other Democrats enter the race as well.
“A lot of people know Governor Deal is leading the state in the wrong direction, but I certainly feel that Connie will be a good candidate,” Henson said.
Henson also hinted that Barge’s campaign, which is expected to criticize Deal on education funding, could be a benefit.
“Bringing forth the governor’s lack of concern in improving public education will be helpful whether it’s from a Republican opponent or Democratic candidates,” Henson said.