Barnes seeks to reclaim old job
Former governor enters 2010 race for state's top executive position

MARIETTA - Ending months of speculation, former Georgia Gov. Roy Barnes announced Wednesday that he'll run to reclaim his old job.

The Democrat, who was ousted in 2002 after a single term, turned on the folksy Southern charm even as he blasted the state's ruling GOP for leading the state in wrong direction on transportation, education and job creation. Barnes - whose reputation for arrogance earned him the nickname "King Roy" while he was in the governor's mansion - struck a far humbler tone on Wednesday, saying he'd learned from mistakes in his first term and was ready for a fresh start with voters.

"I realize that when I was governor before I didn't do enough listening. I realize that I was impatient and had an aggressive agenda," Barnes said Wednesday surrounded by his family in a packed hotel conference room in Marietta.

"I didn't take time to explain why I thought certain issues were important or time-sensitive and critical."

He went on to add that, "my mama said I was the hard-headedest kid that God ever put on the face of the earth and my mama was always right."

Barnes said he would file paperwork to officially enter race in July so that he can complete a term as chairman of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. Formally entering the race in July also allows him to avoid the first round of campaign disclosure reports due July 1, providing him breathing room to raise the money often viewed as a key indicator of political viability.

Barnes' comeback bid, while not unexpected, nonetheless shakes up Georgia's crowded governor's race, which is already in full swing with more than a year to go before primaries next summer. Most political experts say the 61-year-old lawyer - a formidable fundraiser with high name recognition around the state - immediately becomes the clear front runner for his party's nomination.

The three other Democrats in the race - Attorney General Thurbert Baker, House Minority Leader DuBose Porter and former Georgia National Commander David Poythress - each said Wednesday they planned to remain in the contest.