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Carter grandson to run for governor of US state

November 7, 2013

ATLANTA (AP) — Jason Carter, the grandson of former President Jimmy Carter and a state lawmaker, said Thursday that he plans to run for governor of next year in Georgia, where the elder Carter governed before becoming president.

While Democrats once dominated Georgia’s politics, things in the southern state have changed dramatically since Jimmy Carter served as governor in the 1970s.

Jason Carter’s decision energized Democrats coming off a 2010 election in which the Republican party claimed every statewide office.

In 2002, Georgia elected its first Republican governor since the 1800s and the conservative party has been in power ever since. But the younger Carter is clearly betting that the state’s changing demographics could carry him to the governor’s mansion next year. Georgia has seen an influx of people moving in from other states and its minority population has grown.

There has been optimism among Democrats that the 2016 presidential election could present an opportunity for their party in Georgia. The state has voted for every Republican presidential nominee since 2000, but President Barack Obama garnered 47 percent of voters in 2008 and 45.5 percent in 2012.

Carter’s decision resets the 2014 governor’s race as Republican Gov. Nathan Deal seeks re-election. Deal already faces two Republican primary challengers and will now have to deal with a Carter campaign that is likely to gain national attention and donors.

Carter, 38, said concerns about education and the economy were at the center of his decision to run.

“I’ve traveled around the state, and people believe our education system is on the brink. People believe the economy is not working for the middle class,” Carter said in an interview with The Associated Press early Thursday.

Carter was first elected to the Georgia Senate in May 2010. His decision to run for governor was first reported by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

A big question will be how his grandfather will factor into the campaign.

The 89-year-old former president, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate who remains active in various international issues, said in a statement that he is proud and excited about his grandson’s announcement.

“Georgia faces serious challenges ahead and would greatly benefit from a smart and fresh leader focused on improving our schools, creating opportunities for a more prosperous middle class and restoring a sense of trust and transparency back to state government,” the elder Carter said.

When the younger Carter first ran for office, his grandfather didn’t start campaigning until a few days before the election. At the time, Jason Carter told AP he wanted to prove that he could do the hard work on his own and didn’t want to be “trading on my family name.”

Jason Carter’s path would seek to follow that of his grandfather. Jimmy Carter served two terms in the Georgia Senate before running for governor. Although Jimmy Carter lost his first bid in 1966, he won four years later.

Carter was elected president in 1976, defeating President Gerald Ford before losing to Ronald Reagan in 1980.

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