ALBANY -- Congressman Nathan Deal, a Republican representative from North Georgia, told reporters during a brief stop in Albany Monday that he is resigning his post in Washington to focus on his campaign to become Georgia's governor.
Deal, who has joined the ranks of seven others trying to move into the governor's mansion, made stops throughout the state Monday to declare that the race for governor deserves his focus.
"I'm leaving Congress now because I have had a first-row seat to the damage a lack of experience in the executive branch can cause," Deal said during a 30-minute fly-in to Albany.
Deal insisted that his resignation was not connected to a pair of congressional probes into a lucrative no-bid contract Deal's auto salvage business had with the state.
A report, initially printed by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution allegedly found that Deal personally intervened with state officials to fight proposed changes to the arrangement that could have created competition for the state's business. The contracts earned Deal's company $1.5 million from 2004 to 2008.
Officials said that because Deal will no longer be in the House, the congressional committees will no longer have jurisdiction over him.
"That is absolutely untrue. You know, it's very easy for these liberal George Soros' (founder of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington or CREW which named Deal one of the most corrupt members of Congress) sponsored organizations like that to level charges against somebody. Anybody who made a complaint based on one AJC article, I think they're judgement is in question and they say that's the basis on which they say they filed the complaint," Deal said.
"My decision to leave Congress at this point is the fact that I need the time to dedicate to this race for governor," he said.
During his comments, Deal said that he believes that the next Georgia governor should be someone that recognizes values shared by Georgians and that he was uniquely qualified to lead the state back to prosperity with job creation being his number one priority.
Deal said that he believes Georgia has potential job growth and creation in the Savannah River Nuclear Plant, as the government seems eager to find alternative ways to process spent nuclear rods and other waste.
Deal said that he also understood that the vast majority of Georgians long to be free of government involvement in their day-to-day lives.
"Georgians understand the value of independence from government," he said. "We don't expect government to do everything for us."
Deal, who is leaving Congress in the middle of a tumultuous health care reform debate, downplayed the notion that he may be leaving his 9th District constituents without a voice at the health care table, saying that more Democrats have resigned or withdrawn than Republicans and that the state is still in good hands.
"We still have a strong conservative delegation in Washington," he said. "We did our best to stall it and we did stall it and I think I'll be leaving it in vary able hands."
Gov. Sonny Perdue will now have to call for an election to fill Deal's seat.
Chris Shrimpf, a Perdue spokesperson, said that no plans had yet been made as to when the election would be held.
The governor has 10 days from Monday to file a writ of election which would then allow for an election to be set for no less than 30 days later.
Rep. John Linder, another Georgia Republican, announced his plans not to seek re-election. Republican State Sen. Don Balfour of Snellville has expressed interest in that seat.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.