House Speaker David Ralston had just finished telling the Atlanta Press Club about his plans for the House to lead on saving rural Georgia and to fund and build transit infrastructure in the state when he was asked about his own future plans.
Are you considering running for for governor in 2018?
The Blue Ridge Republican made a joke, turned serious and made another joke. But what he didn't say was "yes" or "no."
"Well, I left the Capitol a few minutes ago and we had a governor," he said.
Gov. Nathan Deal's second -- and final -- term ends in January 2019. Ralston has increasingly been mentioned as a potential candidate for the job, along with Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and others. The speaker on Wednesday, however, said he does not believe it appropriate to discuss such matters while the 40-day legislative session is ongoing.
"Over the coming months, Georgians are going to start thinking about, talking about, what they're looking for in the next governor," he said. "I think they'll be looking for someone who has a vision, such as a Zell Miller with the HOPE scholarship or Nathan Deal with economic development and criminal justice reform."
Or, Ralston said, "someone with the courage on some of these issues I talked about. At least that's what I'm going to be looking for."
Note that last part.
Still, he said, "the job I have now, I'm incredibly honored to have so I'm happy to die in this office. Some days I think I'm pretty close to it."
The job of speaker requires one to wrangle 179 other House members. It is not an ideal job for political advancement, he said.
"It's not a job though ... you have to make decisions," he said. "There's no one to pass the buck off to, because it stops at your desk. You can't say you have a divided leadership here, because we don't."
If that last bit sounds like a shot at Cagle, who has often battled with Senate President Pro Tem David Shafer, R-Duluth, and others in leadership, you weren't alone.
As speaker, Ralston said, "sometimes though you bruise a few egos. and i get that. I get that the last speaker that went to the governor office was 85 years ago. And I think there's some reason for that, probably."
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