MONROE — Most people’s vacation pictures draw little notice. Up-and-coming politicians taking a trip to Mar-a-Lago are another story entirely.
State Sen. Burt Jones raised eyebrows Monday with a tweet showing him and his father with former President Donald Trump at his Florida resort.
Good to see the President this morning at his home in Palm Beach.... 🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸 pic.twitter.com/bdH1ozEFvF— Burt Jones (@burtjonesforga) May 3, 2021
Jones, a Republican from Jackson who represents southern Walton County, didn’t give details on his meeting with the former president. But it raised plenty of questions across the political landscape.
Jones was among the first Peach State politicians to endorse the business mogul. But Jones has stuck by Trump’s side even though the president narrowly fell short in Georgia in his 2020 reelection bid — and through the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol by aggrieved Trump supporters hoping to upend the Electoral College count in Congress.
Trump has endorsed one local politician in a bid for statewide office. U.S. Rep. Jody Hice of Greensboro is challenging incumbent Brad Raffensperger in the 2022 Republican primary for secretary of state.
After a recent appearance before the Walton County Chamber of Commerce with other local lawmakers, Jones wouldn’t tip his hand on what he plans to do in the next election cycle.
“I’m keeping all my options open now. I’m not in a rush to make any kind of decision,” he told The Tribune.
“I’m looking, and when you look at getting in public service and doing it on a statewide level, it’s a big commitment, and there’s a lot of soul-searching and family talks and everything else that’s got to go on.”
Jones confirmed he is “vetting” a race for a higher office in 2022 but had not made up his mind.
That could be for lieutenant governor, where Republican incumbent Geoff Duncan hasn’t confirmed his plans.
Trump has lambasted Gov. Brian Kemp and said offering his endorsement in 2018 was a mistake. Former Democratic state Rep. Vernon Jones is challenging Kemp in next year’s GOP primary.
Republicans still are looking for a big-name candidate for the Senate seat formerly held by Johnny Isakson, who retired in 2019.
Kemp appointed Atlanta business executive Kelly Loeffler, but she lost the seat in a special election to Democrat Raphael Warnock, who’ll seek a full six-year term next year.
Trump has pushed former University of Georgia football star Herschel Walker to run, but Walker lives in Texas. And even if Walker decides not to pursue a bid, Jones says he’s not interested in running against Warnock, or trying for the seat now held by Hice, saying he “never (has) been a D.C. guy.”
“I just don’t have an interest in going up there, spending four days, flying back home all the time,” he said. “I’ve got a wife and kids I kind of enjoy being around.”
Jones said he thinks Hice would do well as Georgia’s next secretary of state and said he doesn’t fault the former pastor for running for a new position.
“I think he’s probably had enough of Washington and ready to come home,” Jones said, “but he wants to keep serving the people of Georgia, so I think it would be a good role for him.”