State Sen. Josh McKoon filed paperwork Thursday, launching his run for Secretary of State.
In an interview with the Ledger-Enquirer, McKoon said he’s excited about the race, which currently includes at least three other candidates to replace Brian Kemp. Others already vying for the position include Reps. Buzz Brockway, R-Lawrenceville, and Brad Raffensperger, R-Johns Creek, as well as David Belle Isle, the Republican mayor of Alpharetta, Ga.
McKoon, a controversial Republican legislator who has challenged party leadership occasionally, listed former Georgia Republican Party Chairwoman Sue Everhart as his campaign chairman and Atlanta businessman Robert Hennessy as his treasurer. Hennessy also is active in state Republican politics.
“We have a good team to get started with,” said the senator, who posted a video on Facebook on Thursday announcing his decision to the public. “And now, after filing this paperwork today, we can start raising money and organizing the campaign.”
McKoon said he was interested in the Secretary of State position, even before becoming a state senator.
“I decided to run for Secretary of State for a couple of reasons,” he said. “One is I’m very concerned about the integrity of the electoral process. I actually looked at running for Secretary of State eight years ago, before Seth Harp vacated the senate seat. And the issue then, and I think the issue now, is making sure people feel that their vote is going to count, that they don’t have to worry about there being any malfeasance in the electoral process, any illegal votes cast.”
McKoon said he also believes the licensing function of the office is ripe for reform.
“There’s been a nationwide study done by Americans for Prosperity that 5.4 million new jobs could be created if we would reduce the barriers to entry for licensed professions,” he said. “So that’s something I’m very passionate about, is trying to connect people on that first rung on the ladder to economic success by making it easier for them to enter a licensed profession.”
As an attorney, McKoon said he’s also concerned about the delivery of online services at the Secretary of State Office.
“I think there are a number of ways that we can improve delivery of the corporate services,” he said.
McKoon has been in the General Assembly since 2011. Earlier this year, he announced that he would not seek re-election for his Senate District 29 seat that includes north Columbus. He was one of the first lawmakers to push “religious liberty” legislation, which passed the General Assembly last year but was vetoed by Gov. Nathan Deal and strongly opposed by the state business community.
He was stripped by the Republican caucus leadership of his chairmanship of the Senate Judiciary Committee at the start of the 2017 session. He has also battled the leadership over what he has termed transparency issues.
When asked about his contention with Deal and other Republican leadership, McKoon said he believes 2018 will usher in a new era for state politics.
“The thing about 2018 is we’re going to elect a new governor, we’re going to elect a new lieutenant governor, and we’re going to elect a new secretary of state,” he said. “I think we’re going to have new leaders in all those positions who are bold conservatives that really want to innovate in a way that’s gonna make Georgia a better place to live, work and play. And I’m excited about being a part of that team and part of that process.”