State Senator John Bulloch.
OCHLOCKNEE, Ga. — State Sen. John Bulloch, a Republican from Georgia's 11th district, has resigned to spend more time with his family.
Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp has set a special election to fill the seat vacated by Bulloch. The election is set for Jan. 8.
District 11 covers Colquitt, Decatur, Early, Grady, Miller, Seminole and portions of Mitchell and Thomas counties.
“It has been an honor to serve District 11 as a Georgia State Senator since 2003," Bulloch said in a statement. "I’d like to thank all of my constituents, colleagues and staff for their support during my years at the Gold Dome. However, no one deserves more appreciation and recognition than my wife and family. Their unconditional love and encouragement was a constant reminder of the reason why I ran for this office — because I wanted to create a better and brighter future for this state.
"As a farmer by trade, it has been a special privilege to serve as chairman of the Senate Agriculture and Consumer Affairs committee. Very few farmers get chances like this, and I am grateful for the opportunity to play a pivotal role in strengthening Georgia’s ag industry. I am looking forward to spending more time with my family and sharing the wealth of fond memories and life lessons collected during my time in the Georgia Senate.”
Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle offered praise for the 10-year Senate veteran after formally accepting his resignation.
“John Bulloch is the embodiment of a statesman and a great example of what every public servant should strive to be," Cagle said in a news release. "His passion for agriculture, our state’s No. 1 industry, was unyielding. He worked tirelessly for his constituents and principles and never shied away from a fight.
"Throughout his entire career in public service, he never forgot that service wasn’t about him but about those who had trusted him to be their voice in government. I am proud to have served with him and honored to call him a dear friend. The Georgia State Senate will not be the same without him, and all of us will miss his fighting spirit, his commitment to always doing what is right, and, of course, his perfectly pressed blue jeans. Nita (Cagle's wife) joins me in thanking him and Miriam for their service and wish them the very best.”
Locally, state Rep. Ed Rynders offered similar comments after hearing of Bulloch's resgination.
"This is a tremendous loss, not just to Southwest Georgia but to the entire agriculture community in the state," said Rynders, R-Leesburg, one of Bulloch's close friends and allies. "John Bulloch is a good friend, and he has been an effective representative for the interests of this region because he knows how to get stuff done."
A farmer by trade, Bulloch was first sworn in to the state senate in 2003 to represent District 11. He currently is the chairman of the Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee, vice chair of the Natural Resources and the Environment Committee, a member of the Appropriations and Rules committees, and an ex-officio member of the Banking and Financial Institutions Committee.
Speculation has already begun as to possible candidates for Bulloch's seat, and among the names being mentioned by some insiders are state Reps. Gene Maddox, Jay Powell and Darlene Taylor, all Republicans, as well as unsucessful 2008 U.S. House District 2 candidate Mike Keown, also a Republican.
"I don't believe there will be a shortage of well-qualified candidates for the seat," Rynders said.
— Carlton Fletcher contributed to this report.