ATLANTA — The re-emergence off the Democratic Party and the 2010 departure of incumbent Gov. Sonny Perdue are luring dancers to the gubernatorial dance floor.
The race’s latest addition is on the Democratic card, where state Rep. DuBose Porter, a Dublin newspaper publisher and the House minority leader wrote in his name.
Gov. Perdue cannot seek another term when his current one expires, and numerous Republicans paused from bathing in their relatively new power to jockey for his position.
The Democratic Party emasculated by a decade of Georgia GOP emergence, though, now benefits from an Obama White House and Republican infighting under the Gold Dome.
And it was not that long ago a post-Civil War Georgia had never elected a Republican governor.
Rep. Porter is the third Democrat to commit to the race, with the election still more than 18 months out, and more candidates are expected.
Rep. Porter said what pushed him into the contest where he’d been called a possible candidate was the GOP-controlled Legislature’s agreement on a power grab and stalemate over funding transportation needs.
“This year’s lack of leadership on transportation and their personal grabs for power at the expense of the people convinced me to throw my hat into the ring,” the 26-year House member said.
He joins Attorney General Thurbert Baker and the well-credentialed David Poythress — formerly Georgia’s adjutant general, secretary of state and labor commissioner — as Democrats in the race. And former Gov. Roy Barnes has said he may jump in.
At least four Republicans are vying for their party’s nomination. Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, Secretary of State Karen Handel, state Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine and state Rep. Austin Scott of Tifton are running. Cobb County Commission Chairman Sam Olens is also considering a run.
Gen. Poythress said in a statement he was “confident” he would win the party’s primary and that he wasn’t surprised by Rep. Porter’s decision.
A spokesman for Attorney General Baker said he “looks forward to a vigorous debate about how to move Georgia forward.”
Rep. Porter said he offers a more moderate, rural voice for the governor’s mansion.
Known as a craft tactician, he should make the race interesting.
Rep. Porter was an attorney by profession when first elected to the House in 1982. Five years later, he and a business partner bought the Dublin Courier Herald.
He rose in power as a floor leader for then-Gov. Zell Miller in 1991-92, then had the gumption to plot with mavericks like then-Rep. McCracken Poston of Ringgold for a Democratic takeover from Speaker Tom Murphy.
The South Georgia lawmaker survived that defeat to continue earning respect as a leader, while Speaker Murphy tried in vain to hold back the Republican tide.
In 2002 the GOP took the governor’s post and the Senate, with help from a couple party changers.
Two years later they took the House.
Rep. Porter was selected the chamber’s minority leader, and has been a champion among critics of Republican policies. He called the just-ended legislative session “the last straw.”
“We need new leadership in the state,” he told The Associated Press, adding he hopes Democrats can unite behind a single candidate.
“We’ll just have to wait and see how that plays out,” he said.
Associated Press writers Greg Bluestein and Shannon McCaffrey and staff writer Tom Turner contributed to this report.