A look back on Eric Johnson

By Sonny Dixon - bio | email

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Eric Johnson is philosophical about his narrow loss in his Republican Primary bid to become governor.

The architect by trade put his first designs on Georgia politics in 1980 an operative for senator Mack Mattingly.

He went on to chair Chatham's Republican before seeking election. I've known him through it all and Marvel at his honor, work ethic, time management and commitment to issues he first emphasized when he announced his candicacy for the house in May of 1992.

"Kitchen table issues, that's education, taxes and recently just the whole government issue, government reforms, citizen empowerment. You know it's not working. We need to make some changes," said Eric Johnson told WTOC in November 1992.

And he set about doing just that with a term in the House then on to the Senate where he was but one in a small minority of Republicans who would eventually set himself apart.

Then, in 2002 voters almost gave Republicans a majority and a couple of party switchers tilted the scales.

"We've wanted to be here for a long, long time. But we don't want to be here for pork and perks. We wanted to be here to govern and do it right. So that's what we want to do," Johnson said when he was sworn in as Senate Pro-Tem in January 2001.

His Senate colleagues made him President Pro-Tem, the de facto to the Lieutenant Governor.

"In 20 years or so of politics, I hope I did the coast and Chatham County proud," Johnson told WTOC on Monday.

In that triumphant moment, could even he imagine the step he would take just a few years later.

Trying to become the first governor elected from Savannah since 1802 was challenge enough, but in a primary field of seven? Still he almost made the cut for a runoff.

"I feel fine. We had a great political career. God blessed it. You meet a lot of good people. It's a great state full of good people. We ran a great campaign and came up a little short but looking back we feel good about it," Johnson said.

"I continue to be concerned about this country and this state, but having participated in the electoral process for so long, I have faith in the system," he added.

"Government works. It doesn't necessarily work well, but people you turn over and you know somebody said that our country was designed by geniuses to be run by idiots' and there's some truth in that," said Johnson. "That almost no matter who gets elected, you know, the system works. and as long as we protect out constitution and leave power with the people and not with the politicians you know we can always fix the problems that they create."

Johnson is enjoying time with his family now. As for an endorsement in the Republican Pimary runoff, he has not ruled it out, but has no immediate plans to endorse anyone.

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