Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, a Gainesville native, filed last week to run for governor in 2018, making him the latest Republican to enter what is becoming a busier race to replace Gov. Nathan Deal.
Cagle was elected lieutenant governor in 2006 after several terms in the state Senate, to which he was first elected in 1994.
The prominent Georgia Republican made a play at running for governor leading up to the 2010 race, but dropped out after filing in 2008.
In 2017, the 51-year-old Cagle is entering the race to succeed Deal, who is closing his second and final term. Georgia law limits governors to two consecutive terms.
Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp has already entered the race.
Cagle's campaign is led by Chairman Charles Tarbutton, an influential GOP powerbroker and an assistant vice president at Sandersville Rail Co., and Treasurer Tommy Gay, another Gainesville native and co-owner of pet food maker Big Creek Foods.
Scott Binkley, former Washington D.C.-based executive director of the Republican Lieutenant Governors Association, has been hired as Cagle's campaign manager.
Tarbutton has been a close friend of Cagle since 2005, Tarbutton told the Gainesville Times on April 12.
Tarbutton was the chairman of Cagle's 2010 and 2014 re-election campaigns and said he has "an enormous amount of confidence" in Cagle.
"Good jobs, safe neighborhoods, good schools - those are the things that families are concerned about," Tarbutton said. "Those are the things that government can really impact, and he has proven to be a leader over his time in service to the people of Georgia and is prepared to continue to lead at the next level."
The formal campaign announcement is expected later this month.
Cagle's campaign committee, Cagle for Georgia, has set up an office on Chamblee Tucker Road in the Embry Hills neighborhood of Atlanta.
In anticipation of Cagle's campaign, District 26 state Rep. Geoff Duncan filed paperwork last week to be Georgia's next lieutenant governor.
Duncan, a Republican who represents east and northeast Forsyth, said he decided with his family to pursue the seat and has been getting positive responses across the state.
"The Duncans are excited about this next chapter in our life. It's going to be a long 18-month journey, but we're ready for the challenge," Duncan said. "I think the encouragement we've gotten from around the state in the last six months has been very encouraging, and I think the folks are wanting to see folks step up to run for these leadership positions that have policy in mind and not politics in mind."
In Georgia, the lieutenant governor is president of the state Senate and next in line if the governor leaves office before the term ends. Unlike the vice president and lieutenant governors of other states, Georgia's position is not elected with the governor.
State rules do not allow Duncan to run for both lieutenant governor and state representative.
Duncan said he will serve the remainder of his two-year term as state representative. His seat will be up for election in 2018.