Scouted for Senate run, Stacey Evans decides to stay in Georgia House

The path for the Rev. Raphael Warnock to launch a Democratic Senate bid just got a little clearer.

State Rep. Stacey Evans, a Smyrna Democrat considered a rising star in her party, said she turned down overtures from leaders to challenge Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson.

Evans said in an interview she was "sitting here minding my own business" when she got a call from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee over the summer urging her to consider a run. She talked with her husband, consulted with advisers and trekked to Washington to talk with Montana Sen. Jon Tester, the campaign chair.

"I ultimately decided it was not something I could do. Not because I thought I couldn't do it. But I reflected upon why I'm in politics at all: To be effective and to make good positive change," said Evans, an attorney.  "And I feel like I'm doing that in my role now."

Evans is the go-to Democrat in the House on the push to restore funding that had been cut from the state’s HOPE scholarship program. The Ringgold native is also the first in her family to graduate from college, and she used her share in a massive whistleblower settlement she helped litigate to create a $500,000 scholarship for first-generation graduates at the University of Georgia's law school.

Evans plans to push for more changes to the scholarship the next legislative session, but she wouldn't rule out a run for higher office in the future. "But as long as I'm effective, I don't feel the need to jump into anything else," she added.

Evans' decision is likely welcome news for Warnock, the pastor of historic Ebenezer Baptist Church who is mulling a campaign against Isakson. He would become the first Democrat to challenge Isakson, who recently announced he had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, but said it would not jeopardize his ability to serve.

Another possible contender, former Rep. John Barrow, took a teaching position at UGA this fall, signaling he won't run for office next year.

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About the Author

Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein is a political reporter who covers the governor's office and state politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
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