ALBANY -- As Gov. Sonny Perdue's time in office comes to a close, campaigns for the vacant seat are charging forward, hoping to become a front-runner to claim the title of governor in 2010.
Eric Johnson, R-Savannah, has been traveling across Georgia in recent weeks in pursuit of the Republican gubernatorial nomination. In September, Johnson announced his resignation of his Senate seat to focus on his gubernatorial campaign.
"That was an easy decision when we decided to face it," he said Wednesday during an interview with The Herald. "I want to make sure I'm hearing the voters of Georgia."
Johnson said he didn't feel it would be fair to his constituents to have a senator who was splitting half his time between the Legislature and the campaign trail.
"It's been refreshing," he said. "The Bible says that you can't serve two masters, same thing applies to politics."
Johnson said freedom from his Senate seat has given him more "elbow room on some issues." The former senator said he felt the need to get back to the grassroots organization and commit fully to listening to voters.
"I have noticed that most people are concerned with the economy and jobs, it's the main issue," he said.
Johnson said that people are also worried that these issues will be addressed by raising taxes. "They don't want to address it with high taxes," he said. "We also don't want our children to suffer so that we can have a short-term relief."
Johnson said that increasing deficits and raising taxes are not solutions. He said that cutting back and spending wisely are the solution to the economic hardship throughout Georgia.
"People also want politicians to tell the truth and stand for something," he said.
Johnson said it is important for the state to learn to address the needs of all Georgians.
"I don't believe there are two Georgias," he said. "While Atlanta is the economic heartbeat of the state, agricultural business is extremely important to Georgia."
Johnson said the state will have to address water concerns in such a way to benefit the entire state. "There have to be some investments made to keep Atlanta viable without taking it from the farmers," he said. "Reservoirs might need to be built."
Johnson said he is firmly against the proposed idea of building a dam on the Flint River.
"There are different needs for every community," he said.
Johnson said it is important for Georgians to have a governor who can address their specific needs and communicate the importance of those needs in Atlanta.
"The important thing is to bring economic opportunities back to Georgia," he said. "A job is a job, whether it's in Albany or Atlanta. South Georgia is critically important and we need to grow jobs."