Keen stays out of governor's race

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ATLANTA — Despite front-runner Casey Cagle's departure from the governor's race, Jerry Keen says he's not going to run, although many people are asking him to.

Mr. Keen, the House majority leader from St. Simons Island, said today that he had received so many calls Wednesday after Mr. Cagle's announcement that he had to recharge his cell phone twice.

"It doesn't change my decision," Mr. Keen said.

Mr. Cagle, the first Republican lieutenant governor, held a brief news conference early Wednesday afternoon to say he was withdrawing from the race because of pain in his neck. Instead, he will seek re-election.

Earlier in the week, a poll by InsiderAdvantage showed Mr. Cagle with a two-to-one lead over Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine in the Republican gubernatorial primary. Secretary of State Karen Handel and Rep. Austin Scott of Tifton trailed, as they have in the fundraising contest. Three Democrats - House Minority Leader DuBose Porter, Attorney General Thurbert Baker and former National Guard Adjutant General David Poythress - have already announced.

Mr. Keen said he's still passing on the statewide race.

"The decision I made not to run for governor — I made that decision in December — had nothing to do with who was running or who was not running," he said. "It was a decision that our family made about the job and, at this point this point in our lives, is that a job that we really want to put that much effort into."

Other aspects of his life overshadow his political ambition, he told reporters.

"I did laughingly tell a few people, 'If you move the state capitol to Brunswick, I might consider it.' But we're pretty entrenched down on the coast with our family and grandkids and business."

During the legislative session that ended earlier this month, he drafted an amendment that would have forced candidates to resign their current posts. He never introduced it, he said, because he concluded that it would have been perceived as targeting one or another of the announced candidates.

He wants to see it debated after next year's election.

He likened campaigning while in another office to an employee looking for a better position on company time.

"I think I know what most employers would tell you, that you've got to find another job," he said.


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