Jimmy Carter's grandson to run for Georgia governor

In this June 19, 2012 file photo, Democratic Georgia state Sen. Jason Carter talks during a news conference for the Carter Center's election witnessing mission in Egypt, in Cairo.
AP Photo/Nasser Nasser, File

Georgia state Sen. Jason Carter - a Democrat and the grandson of former President Jimmy Carter - said on Wednesday that he will challenge incumbent Republican Gov. Nathan Deal in next year's gubernatorial election.

Carter, who announced his decision in an interview published Thursday in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, will attempt to travel the path cleared by his grandfather, who served as a Georgia state senator and governor before ascending to the presidency.

The move sets up what is likely to be a marquee contest between Carter, who will try to leverage Georgia's changing demographic profile into a victory, and Deal, who already faces several primary challengers and has been dogged by ethics questions.

"We can't wait as a state," Carter told the Journal-Constitution. "The bottom line is we can't afford four more years of an economy that's not working for the middle class and an education system that's underfunded. It's not about politics. It's about making sure we can get the state that we need."

Deal has been accused by current and former staffers of the state ethics commission of improperly interfering with the investigation of complaints against him, an issue to which Carter subtly nodded in his announcement.

"We want a Georgia that's at its best," he said. "And Georgia at its best invests in education, it doesn't cut billions out of the classrooms, it has an economy that works for the middle class and it always has an honest government."

Despite his pedigree, Carter faces an uphill road to reclaim the Georgia governor's mansion, which has been held by a Republican for 12 years.

Carter won't be the only famous name on the 2014 Georgia ballot - Michelle Nunn, daughter of longtime former Sen. Sam Nunn, is the Democratic frontrunner in the race to replace Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss, who will retire at the end of his term.

He also won't be the only grandson of Jimmy Carter to make political headlines in recent years - During the 2012 election, when Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney was caught on tape making his infamous "47 percent" comments, it was Jason Carter's cousin, James Carter IV, who was credited with unearthing the footage.

Jason Carter's father, Jack Carter, staged an unsuccessful 2006 run for the U.S. Senate in Nevada, ultimately losing to then-Sen. John Ensign, a Republican.