Burt Jones will run for Georgia lieutenant governor

A state senator and wealthy oil executive who has spent the past nine months questioning the results of Georgia’s 2020 presidential election filed paperwork Saturday declaring his intent to join the Republican race for lieutenant governor.

After months of speculation, state Sen. Burt Jones said he intends to seek the GOP nomination for the state’s second highest elected office. Jones, a Jackson resident, has become one of the state’s most vocal opponents of results of the 2020 presidential election.

At a state Republican gathering Saturday in Rome, Jones emphasized how he was one of the few state senators to call for a special legislative session to probe Donald Trump’s defeat, a move that could have paved the way to an attempt to invalidate Joe Biden’s victory. He drew applause when he said he was “punished” for his advocacy by losing a key chairmanship.

He also called for slashing the state’s income tax, increasing funding for law enforcement and banning school mask mandates. And he cast himself as a reformer in Trump’s mold to clean up “the real swamp” in Georgia.

The announcement comes after Jones, who could at least partly self-finance his campaign, briefly flirted with a challenge to Gov. Brian Kemp or a run for U.S. Senate. In recent weeks, however, Jones told supporters and fellow legislators he was running for Georgia’s No. 2 job.

Jones joined other senators in December on an amicus brief supporting Texas’ unsuccessful attempt to have results overturned in Georgia and other states — and had his Senate chairmanship stripped as a result.

In June, he participated in a “walk through” of ballot review stations during a Republican-backed review of Joe Biden’s victory in Arizona. He has courted an endorsement from Trump, traveling to the former president’s Mar-a-Lago compound this spring.

Though Trump hasn’t formally endorsed Jones, he earlier this summer ruled out supporting state Senate Pro Tem Butch Miller, a Republican also running for lieutenant governor. Trump called on “strong and effective” challengers to enter the Republican primary.

Miller has leaned on his close ties to the state‘s GOP establishment, and his roots in the Republican stronghold of Gainesvill, to secure broad financial support for his candidacy. He reported raising nearly $2 million in the five weeks after entering the race, a lofty sum for a down-ticket contest.

Republican activist Jeanne Seaver also announced her intent to run for the office earlier this year.

Jones has elevated his profile in Republican circles since the 2020 election through his promotion of Trump’s false claims of widespread voter fraud that the former president said cost him the election in Georgia.

He recently drew applause at an event in downtown Rome where supporters handed out “Trump Won” signs. And he was honored by Georgia Republican Party Chair David Shafer with a “Warrior Award,” citing his efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

-- AJC staff writer Greg Bluestein contributed to this report in Rome.