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Josh McKoon: ‘I have decided not to stand as a candidate for re-election’

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Josh McKoon, then-chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee speaking in favor of his "religious liberty" bill in 2015. Bob Andres, bandres@ajc.com

Late last year, state Sen. Josh McKoon of Columbus, by a vote of his own caucus, was deprived of his leadership position as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

He had become, as we wrote at the time, an inconvenient man because of his non-stop push for ‘religious liberty’ legislation, ethics and tougher immigration restrictions. He had become a persona non gratis on the House side – meaning that any bill with his name on it was doomed in that chamber.

And so McKoon announced Monday that he would not seek a fifth two-year term in 2018 – specifically leaving open the possibility of a statewide run for office next year. His prepared remarks:

Good morning. I wanted to take this opportunity to express my thanks to the people of the 29th District for placing your trust in me in four consecutive elections to represent you in Atlanta. I have enjoyed the privilege of serving you and look forward to the work ahead over the next two years. I also would like to thank God for the opportunity to serve such a wonderful district.

 

Given the nature of our terms of service, it is necessary to make a decision soon after an election as to whether you will run again. I have come to a decision about the next election and that is my purpose in speaking to you today.  After a great deal of thought and prayer, I have decided not to stand as a candidate for reelection to the state Senate in 2018.

 

I feel it is important to make this announcement now for several reasons.  An early announcement gives time to potential candidates to weigh their decision and make the necessary preparation to mount a campaign.  We need to make sure our district continues to be represented by a well-qualified person who continues the tradition of being a strong, independent conservative voice and giving this notice helps ensure that. Also, I want to be honest with the voters as I always have. As most of you know, from the time I started with ethics reform, I have fought for open and transparent decision making for our citizens. By announcing now, I avoid even the appearance of attempting to time this announcement to advantage any particular potential candidate.

 

I came to this decision for a few reasons. 

 

First, I believe in the wisdom of a citizen legislature, and that means recognizing that my tenure here should be measured in years, not decades.

 

Secondly, taking on tough issues such as ethics reform, immigration reform and religious liberty has made my time here worthwhile, but it has come at a cost. As someone that came here to fight for the citizens I represent, not special interests, I have accumulated many enemies. As Winston Churchill once said, “You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.”

 

Third, my experience with my opponents has not deterred my will to fight but instead have opened my eyes to new ways in which I might serve my fellow citizens.

 

So what’s next?  Jacqueline and I will be prayerfully considering how best to continue to serve others. Whether that means a future in politics or some other path remains to be seen. What is clear is the amazing work that has been done here at the Capitol by grassroots advocates and citizens who want to change their government for the better. I thank you all.

 

In closing, let me say how humbling it has been to be elected and reelected as your senator.

 

Every senator defines success differently. Some define success by the leadership positions they hold. Others by what they bring to their district.‎ Others by the number of their bills signed into law.
My service has always been about ideas. Some of my ideas have caused discomfort. I‎ make no apologies for any of my ideas or the role I have played in forcing them to be considered and discussed. But I do want to thank the entire body, particularly our leadership, for their patience with me.   I salute the lieutenant governor for the private encouragement and support he has given me.   And the majority leader for the role he played in helping me understanding the nature of politics. And the president pro tem who has demonstrated fairness and humor in the most difficult of circumstances. Most of all I would like to once again thank the voters of the 29th District for giving me the honor of serving you.

 

May God Bless the Georgia Senate and God Bless America.

 




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