Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson has decided against running for governor or any other statewide office, though she’s exploring a U.S. Senate bid in 2020.
Tomlinson told The Columbus Ledger-Enquirer Wednesday that she came “pretty close” to launching a campaign to succeed Republican Gov. Nathan Deal but decided instead to focus on her final stretch as the west Georgia city’s mayor and her stint as chair of Sweet Briar College in Virginia.
She told the Ledger-Enquirer she was surprised by the positive reception she received after flirting for a run at statewide office – along with the public’s perception of her city. She told the newspaper:
“It does have a good reputation, and I think, perhaps, I underestimated that. I thought maybe it was more regional and more local. If I had known that sooner, perhaps I would have been in the 2018 race.”
U.S. Sen. David Perdue is likely to run for a second term in 2020, and Tomlinson is among several Democrats circling the seat. Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and state Rep. Scott Holcomb are also potential candidates.
For now, Tomlinson’s decision is good news for a pair of Georgia Democrats.
The first is House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams, who filed paperwork to run for governor last week and remains the only well-known Democrat in the race. The presumptive Democratic frontrunner, Abrams is aiming to be the nation’s first black female governor.
The second is state Rep. Stacey Evans, who is said to still be seriously considering a run for governor. She and Tomlinson, the first female mayor of Columbus, would have appealed to the same voting bloc: White working-class voters who once formed the party’s backbone but have steadily bolted for the GOP.
In the meantime, expect Tomlinson to push to raise her profile. She’s appeared on scattered cable TV shows in recent months, and she’s likely to be a prominent surrogate for Democratic candidates across the South in the runup to next year’s vote.