ATLANTA - Georgia Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle has dropped out of the race for governor, a surprise move that immediately scrambled the crowded race to replace Sonny Perdue in 2010.
At a news conference this afternoon, Cagle cited nerve damage to his neck and spinal cord that will require surgery.
Surrounded by his wife and three sons, he choked up several times as he made the announcement.
The 43-year-old from Gainesville, who upset Repoublican insider Ralph Reed for lieutenant governor in 2006, was considered a strong contender to win the Republican nomination for governor next summer.
Cagle's departure leaves three Republican still in the race: Secretary of State Karen Handel, Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine and state Rep. Austin Scott of Tifton.
Cagle was elected lieutenant governor after 12 years in the state Senate. He says he will run again for lieutenant governor.