Kermit McManus, Conasauga Judicial Circuit district attorney, announced he will retire in January, only four months before candidates in the 2012 race can file to run.
McManus said he chose to retire Jan. 31 because his retirement plan will reach the maximum amount of creditable service.
McManus, who has been district attorney for 16 years, joined the Conasauga Circuit in 1983 as an assistant district attorney.
"I'm going to miss a lot of the excitement," he said. "I'm not going to miss the headaches and the controversy."
He said another reason for retiring soon is to allow his chief assistant, Bert Poston, to get a feel for the job. He said Poston wants to run for the position, and would be McManus' choice as a successor.
"He's known all along if I would retire he would be the DA," McManus said. "He's ready. The office wouldn't miss a beat."
Poston likely would hold the office until the November election, McManus said. The governor could order a special election for the post, but that's unlikely in an election year, he said.
Poston said he was hired in 1992 and appointed chief assistant when McManus became district attorney in 1996.
He said he is qualified for the job after 19 years of experience in Whitfield and Murray counties, and he's not sure if one year as district attorney will give him more of a leg up in the race.
The deadline to file for candidacy in the elections is from May 23 to May 25 throughout the state, Whitfield County Elections Registrar Kay Staten said.
McManus, who was in private practice for only 20 months of his career, has been a prosecutor for Whitfield and Murray counties for 29 years.