State Sen. Josh McKoon (File photo)

State Sen. Josh McKoon will not run for re-election in 2018

Josh McKoon (R-Columbus), the GOP senator known as the face behind the Georgia legislature’s “religious freedom” movement, announced yesterday he does not plan to run for re-election in 2018.

The announcement was not entirely a surprise, given that he was already removed from a Senate Judiciary Committee leadership position, and state House members were tired of seeing the bill on their agenda.

“It is necessary to make a decision soon after an election as to whether you will run again … After a great deal of thought and prayer, I have decided not to stand as a candidate for re-election,” McKoon said on Jan. 30, in a statement to the Senate. “Taking on tough issues such as ethics reform, immigration reform and religious liberty has made my time here worthwhile, but it has come at a cost. As someone that came here to fight for the citizens I represent, not special interests, I have accumulated many enemies.”

According to a story by The Ledger-Inquirer, the Columbus newspaper, McKoon got some of those enemies back home. Rep. Richard Smith (R-Columbus) blamed McKoon’s ongoing feuds with House Speaker David Ralston and Gov. Nathan Deal for the loss of about $10 million in funding for the city last year, which were slated for Columbus State University and the National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center.

“My service has always been about ideas. Some of my ideas have caused discomfort. I make no apologies for any of my ideas or the role I have played in forcing them to be considered and discussed,” McKoon said. “So what’s next? Jacqueline and I will be prayerfully considering how best to continue to serve others. Whether that means a future in politics or some other path remains to be seen.”