ATLANTA — State Rep. Austin Scott, the Tifton Republican who had announced plans to run for governor, will instead file to run against U.S. Rep. Jim Marshall in the 8th Congressional District race, he said Thursday.
“It’s not about Marshall,” Scott said. “It’s about changing the way we govern in this country. And the number one thing we can do for our economy is to bring balance back to our policies in Washington.”
Scott joins a crowded field in the Republican primary, but he’s the only candidate in the race who has held elected office. He was elected to the Georgia House of Representatives in 1997 and represents Turner and Tift counties.
The other announced Republican candidates are Diane Vann, a Macon nurse; Angela Hicks, a Macon businesswoman; and Ken DeLoach, a Warner Robins teacher and minister. Paul Rish, the former head of the Bibb County Republican Party, was an announced candidate for Marshall’s seat, but Thursday he dropped out of the race to support Scott.
“After much prayer and consideration, I have decided to end my campaign on a high note,” Rish said in an e-mailed statement. He went on to say he will work to help Scott win.
Scott said he plans to file his paperwork today.
Scott joined the governor’s race last year, saying he wanted to change the way Georgia is run, pledging not to take campaign donations from lobbyists and walking 1,000 miles across the state to meet voters. In recent days, he considered leaving that race to run for lieutenant governor, but decided to shift to the 8th District race instead after Heath Garrett, a political strategist for U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson and Scott’s longtime friend, suggested he run against Marshall.
If Scott can win the Republican primary, Marshall will be a difficult opponent to beat.
The former Macon mayor has repeatedly turned back well-funded Republican challengers despite presidential visits and other efforts on their behalf.
Matt Weyandt, executive director of the Democratic Party of Georgia, responded by e-mail Thursday to news that Scott would challenge Marshall. Weyandt’s e-mail was released to The Telegraph by Marshall spokesman Doug Moore.
“When he announced against Marshall, Scott said that it’s not about Marshall, but about changing the way we govern. Yesterday, it was about changing the lieutenant governor, and the day before that, it was the governor. This drama is really just about Austin wanting be somebody — as long as the party bosses sign off on it.
“If he can’t stand up to (Lt. Gov.) Casey Cagle, how is he going to stand up to the party bosses in Washington?”
To contact writer Travis Fain, call 361-2702.