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Jones abandons gubernatorial bid, sets sights on US House

Vernon Jones
Republican Vernon Jones is bowing out of the GOP primary for governor and eyeing a run for US House instead.

Georgia's crowded Republican gubernatorial primary is getting a little less crowded. In an announcement posted to social media this afternoon, former Dekalb County CEO and state representative Vernon Jones is leaving the race to challenge incumbent Governor Brian Kemp and redirecting his campaign towards a seat in the US House of Representatives.

In the statement, Jones threw his support behind former US Senator David Perdue in the GOP primary, calling Perdue, "a good man who loves our state."

One thing not mentioned in Jones' statement, however, is which congressional district he will choose to run in. Because there is no law requiring a member of the US House to live in the district they represent, Jones has a wide array of options. He could choose to challenge freshman incumbent Nikema Williams in the 5th district, formerly held by the late John Lewis. That district, however, is one of the most Democratic-leaning in the country. In 2020, Williams won the general election with 85 percent of the vote. The same is true of the 4th District, which covers much of Dekalb County. Incumbent Democrat Hank Johnson won re-election in 2020 in that district with over 80 percent of the vote.

Another possibility is the 10th District, centered around Athens and represented by Jody Hice, who is vacating his seat to run for Secretary of State. Over a dozen Republicans are running in the district, but as redrawn by state lawmakers late last year, the district remains a solidly conservative one. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that Jones is likely to run in the 10th, which under new redistricting maps signed by Kemp last year, includes Athens-Clarke County and the surrounding area.

Jones served as CEO of Dekalb County from 2001 - 2009, and as a member of the Georgia House of Representatives from 1993 - 2001 and again from 2017 - 2021. He officially switched parties to the GOP in 2020, endorsing former President Donald Trump, and speaking at the GOP national convention.

Martin Matheny was promoted to Program Director and Content Strategist on July 1, 2022. He has served as the Executive Producer of our local news program 'Athens News Matters', and he covers local government for WUGA News. He started at WUGA in 2012 as a part-time classical music host and still hosts WUGA's longest-running local program 'Night Music' which is heard on Tuesdays and Wednesdays on WUGA at 10pm. 'Night Music' can also be heard statewide on the GPB Classical stream Mondays and Tuesdays at 8pm. As part of 'Athens News Matters' Martin works with student interns to help cultivate the next generation of Public Media rock stars! In his spare time Martin is an amateur book binder and freelance musician who frequently performs with Big Band Athens playing bass trombone. He lives in Normaltown with his wife, Shaye and dog, Murphy.