Via email this morning, state Senate veteran, and current President Pro Tem Tommie Williams, announced that he will step down from his leadership position at the end of his current term. Williams, from Vidalia, was one of the first Republicans to be elected from rural Georgia (1998), and is largely credited as having played an instrumental role in the GOP takeover of the state Senate in 2002.

His letter, emailed to his fellow Senators, stated that the veteran lawmaker felt he had been “spending time in Atlanta that should be spent at home or in my district working with constitutents”. He further cited the fact that he has three young children and a desire to spend more time with them.

Williams was the first member of Senate leadership to sign onto the pledge to push for the much-debated $100 cap on lobbyists’ gifts. He is running unopposed for re-election but stated “that leadership positions as well as major chairmanships should be rotated or term limited in order to gain from the talents of many and allow other members the opportunity to serve in higher positions.”

While it is unlikely that a replacement will be unknown until primary season ends, expect rampant speculation from here on out. The AJC’s bit on the news states names “Sen. Ronnie Chance, R-Tyrone, who is one of Gov. Nathan Deal’s floor leaders; Senate Regulated Industries Chairman David Shafer, R-Duluth; Senate Majority Whip Cecil Staton, R-Macon; and Senate Natural Resources Chairman Ross Tolleson, R-Perry” as possible replacements.

Meanwhile, a Tipsheet source has additionally dropped Sen. Bill Cowsert (R-Athens) as one who might toss his hat in the arena.

-Brandon Howell