Lunsford withdraws from race

COVINGTON -- State Rep. John Lunsford, R-McDonough, has decided he won't seek the District 17 state Senate seat and will instead spend more time with his wife and seven children.

Lunsford, who qualified Wednesday to seek the Senate seat currently held by John Douglas, R-Social Circle, said Friday he was subsequently asked several times by Speaker of the House David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, to stay in the House at least through reapportionment. Douglas is running for Public Service Commission District 2.

"The speaker sent a letter to my desk (in the House on Thursday) and asked me half a dozen or a dozen times if I would stay in the House of Representatives," Lunsford said.

Lunsford said he agreed to stay if those who had qualified for his seat would voluntarily withdraw. Lunsford said he explained that he would be seeking to return to his District 110 seat for one term only, but not all of those who had qualified to succeed him were convinced.

Lunsford said he was disappointed that some of the other candidates thought he was "playing a game," but he ultimately decided he had had enough of politics.

"I've wrestled with this about three or four days, and I said, 'You know, I think I've done my duty,'" he said.

Lunsford said he decided not to continue pursuit of the District 17 Senate seat because he had recruited Rick Jeffares of Locust Grove to qualify in that race. Lunsford has held the District 110 seat for 10 years.

Lunsford said he has no regrets about the way his political landscape has changed.

"As you go through life, your goals change," he said. "I don't have any regrets. I've had a wonderful ride, and I'm glad I walked away."

He didn't, however, rule out a future return to the political arena.

"Maybe in a year or two I'll decide to do it again, or maybe when I'm older," Lunsford said. "I'm 52; I still have a few years left."

He said he is grateful for the experiences he's had as a state representative.

"It has truly been an honor and a privilege," he said. "It has changed my life, my family's life. We've met people and done things we would never have done before."