ATLANTA – Gov. Sonny Perdue on Monday appointed a former state senator and secretary of state candidate to fill the vacant secretary post.
Brian Kemp replaces Karen Handel who resigned last month to mount a full-time campaign for the governor’s office. Kemp served as a state senator from 2002 to 2006, when he unsuccessfully ran for agriculture commissioner; he is planning to run for the secretary of state post when it is on the ballot later this year.
“His leadership abilities and integrity will be a great asset to Georgia and the Secretary of State’s office,” Perdue said in a statement.
“I greatly appreciate the Governor’s confidence and am honored to serve the people of Georgia in this vital office,” Kemp said in a statement released by the governor’s office. “I am eager to get started and deliver for the people of Georgia.”
Early reports indicated Perdue would appoint state Rep. Jim Cole, a Republican from Forsyth, for the post. But, in a statement Monday, Cole said he instead accepted an opportunity at Mercer University.
“We had planned to announce after the legislative session that I would not seek re-election in order to take one of these opportunities at Mercer,” Cole said in his statement, according to Barnesville.com.
“The vacancy of the Secretary of State’s office and the Governor’s consideration of me for this position has been an unexpected whirlwind,” Cole added. “At first, it seemed like the opportunity of a lifetime. Yet, as the emotions of the moment settled down over the weekend, Gaylyn and I thought through this issue carefully and knew that it would be best for our family to continue with our original plan.”
Meanwhile, some critics are disappointed Perdue appointed a secretary of state candidate to the post instead of a temporary candidate, the AJC reported.
Kemp, Doug MacGinnitie, a Sandy Springs city councilman, and Robin Carlisle, a Flowery Branch city councilwoman, are vying for Republican nomination for secretary of state. Five Democrats are seeking their party’s nod.