Rep. Westmoreland Won’t Seek Another Term. Who Will Replace Him?

Rep. Lynn Westmoreland at the Georgia GOP 2015 convention. Photo: Jon Richards
Rep. Lynn Westmoreland at the Georgia GOP 2015 convention. Photo: Jon Richards
In a move that some in Georgia’s third congressional district had been suspecting, Rep. Lynn Westmoreland announced today that he will be retiring from Congress at the end of the current term.

His statement:

After a busy fall in Congress, I finally had the opportunity for quiet reflection over the Christmas break. I spent time in prayer and with my family, and with their blessing, have decided I will no longer seek reelection for Georgia’s Third Congressional District.

It has been an honor to serve Georgia’s Third District for the last twelve years, and I believe it is time to pass the torch to our next conservative voice. Washington, D.C. is a much different environment in 2016 than when I was elected in 2004. I know all too well the challenges the new representative will face, and pledge to offer my support and guidance to the next candidate.

Joan and I want to thank the people of Georgia’s Third District. We are forever blessed to have received your support and friendship during my time in office. I look forward to this next chapter in my life; returning to my community and spending more time with family and friends.

So who will replace the six term congressman? Early bets for those likely to run for the seat include State Sen. Josh McKoon of Columbus, Senator Mike Crane of Newnan, Senator Marty Harbin of Tyrone, Rep. Matt Ramsey of Peachtree City, and Westmoreland’s current Chief of Staff Matt Brass.

All are Republicans. Do you have any other ideas for possible contenders? Let us know in the comments.

28 comments

  1. northside101 says:

    Hasn’t been there very long? Why, he is finishing up 12 years in DC—not exactly a short career up there.

    • Noway says:

      Thanks for the math lesson, NS. Now why is he leaving? Whenever you hear someone say he wants to spend more time with their family, that ain’t the real reason.

      • TheEiger says:

        Why can’t a grandfather sit on the porch with grand kids and drink bourbon without people thinking he’s up to something? After two decades of being an elected official why can’t he sit in a deer stand and chill?

        • Noway says:

          Maybe he can get a couple of golden retrievers like Zell, name them Gus and Woodrow and sit on that bucolic back porch, too! Yeah, that’s it. No one leaves a safe congressional seat unless defeated or they have what they believe to be a better opportunity. I agree with gcp, Guv it is.

          • TheEiger says:

            That’s not true at all. Congressmen and Senators retire all the time. Look at John Linder and Saxby. If Westmoreland wanted to run for Governor the smart thing would be to have his seat being contested while he is running for Governor so that it drives up turnout in the portion of the state where he is well liked. I like Lynn a lot and if he runs I will probably vote for him over the current people being talked about. I just don’t think he’s running governor.

        • Will Durant says:

          He ain’t planning on sitting in a deer stand unless there is one behind the house on West Paces Ferry.

  2. JeffHaffley says:

    Other possibles

    Rep. David Stover
    Rep. Kevin Cooke
    Rep. John Pezold
    Rep. Dusty Hightower
    2012 and 2014 Candidate Chip Flanegan
    2012 Candidate Kent Kingsley

      • Trey A. says:

        I assume Ronnie’s still in Tyrone, which puts right on the edge between Lynn’s district and David Scott’s. Most of North Fayette is actually in Scott’s 13th.

  3. northside101 says:

    Perhaps “Governor” Westmoreland in 2018? Like, following in the footsteps of the current governor?

    CD 3 is not the state’s most heavily Republican congressional district—the Gainesville-based CD 9 (Doug Collins) has that distinction—but CD 3 is nonetheless pretty GOP-friendly, roughly in the 65 percent range (Romney got 66 percent in the district in 2012, Senator Perdue 65 percent in 2014).

    In the 2012 Republican presidential primary, more than half of the district’s total votes came from 3 counties (combined), all at the northern end of the district—Carroll (12,363), Coweta (17,483) and the Fayette portion (16,209)—together about 46,000 of the roughly 86,000 votes cast by CD 3 in that contest. Spalding County was in fourth place in the district with 7,587 total votes. Perhaps we will see a north-south battle in the GOP primary.

    • gcp says:

      As usual, you got the numbers.

      Deal won statewide with corruption allegations. Westmoreland, as far as we know, has no corruption baggage. Olens may or may not run which leaves Cagle. Cagle has a long history in state government, both good and bad. Statewide I say Westmoreland wins.

      • TheEiger says:

        I think another sitting Congressman may run. Tom Graves or Tom Price. I doubt both would run. But both come from conservative districts and will be able to raise a ton of money.

  4. northside101 says:

    I don’t see Graves or Price getting in (for governor) next time. Can’t imagine GOP wants a repeat of 2014 when 3 congressmen (Broun, Gingrey and Kingston) sought the open US Senate seat and the state accordingly lost seniority. Furthermore, Kingston may be interested in governor 2018 (he certainly has not said publicly that his elected career is over). Furthermore, Price (with Westmoreland’s retirement) takes over as the state’s senior GOP congressman and seems more likely to cap his career representing the 6th District.

    I don’t agree with the Eiger that the 6th is a “conservative” district (if you mean conservative a la Ted Cruz or Rick Santorum). More accurately, it is fiscally conservative, but like affluent districts across the country, it is not exactly a “Bible-thumping” district. If you were to overlay the current 6th CD with elections of years ago, you likely would have found it backed the state lottery in 1992, and Johnny Isakson in his 1996 GOP US Senate bid (Isakson was pro-choice at that time and lost the nomination to Guy Millner). In 2012, it was one of only two cong. districts in Georgia to back Mitt Romney in the GOP presidential primary (the other was John Lewis’ 5th CD). Furthermore, the district easily backed Sunday retail alcohol sales (70%+). In any event, it is easily the wealthiest of Georgia’s 14 congressional districts, and would provide Price with a good fundraising base in the event he were someday to go statewide.

    • Kent Kingsley says:

      Like ya’ll I not impressed with the current names. I would suggest State Senator Josh McKoon. Strong conservative credentials and a very bright person.

        • TheEiger says:

          His time will come, but running for Governor as a state senator is going to be an uphill battle with a congressman and a couple of already elected statewide officials running. Josh is young enough to run in 10 years.

          Before anyone corrects me, I’m well aware Sonny ran as a sate senator, but that was a different time then we currently live in.

          • Kent Kingsley says:

            I agree Josh is young enough to wait 10 years, but using that logic he should have waited to run for state senator. Haven’t a clue if he will want to run or not, just that he is a good conservative and would make a good governor imho.

  5. TheEiger says:

    I guess it’s more wishful thinking on my part. Not happy with the current field of candidates. You are right that Graves has the more conservative district and Price has the better district to fundraise from.

  6. northside101 says:

    2018 is also the last gubernatorial election before the 2020 census, after which the General Assembly takes up redistricting (probably special session between the 2021 and 2022 sessions). If a Democrat were to win that post, could be some interesting negotiations between a Democratic governor and a Republican-controlled General Assembly—or possibly a court-drawn map. In 2014, Governor Deal defeated Jason Carter by 8 points, basically splitting metro Atlanta with Carter but winning handily overall in the rest of the state. With changing demographics and an open seat in 2018, one might expect a closer contest next time compared to last time.

    Deal certainly was the first Georgia congressman in modern times (since World War 2) to be elected governor, but it is not uncommon in other states for U.S. representatives or senators to take the gubernatorial route. In neighboring South Carolina, Mark Sanford served two terms as governor after 6 years in DC, while in Alabama, Bob Riley did 2 terms as governor (2003-2011) after 6 years on Capitol Hill. Perhaps Deal has set a precedent whereby Georgia congressmen no longer seek to end their political careers in DC.

    • Trey A. says:

      “Perhaps Deal has set a precedent whereby Georgia congressmen no longer seek to end their political careers in DC.”

      Let us not pretend that Deal had a choice in the matter. He would have ended his career in DC had he not been facing a Charlie Rengel-style three ring circus–as well as a dire personal financial situation. Resigning from Congress and running for governor “fixed” both of those major problems for Deal–and would have “worked” for him personally even if he had lost.

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