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Mark Richt for governor? Speculation abounds

GOP consultants float a Mark Richt candidacy for governor
For the first time, Mark Richt spoke publicly about being fired from his post as head football coach.

ATLANTA -- There's no indication Mark Richt is running for Governor. But the political world is talking about it anyway. That, after a popular blog reported that GOP strategists were trying to drum up a Richt candidacy.

"This is a trial balloon by a consultant hoping that some day he can make this come true," said Charlie Harper, a GOP consultant himself and editor of Peach Pundit. Harper looks at Richt through the eyes of a consultant – and sees money.

Richt is wildly popular and has banked big paychecks as coach of the university of Georgia's football team. Consultants like winners who can pay their bills. And in a year that has seen poll success by self-funded political outsiders like Donald Trump and Senator David Perdue, Harper says Richt is a political consultant's dream.

But that doesn't mean Richt is actually running. "Mark Richt is actually likable, genuine and sincere. So he has no place in politics!" Harper said Tuesday. "If he wanted to do it, he would be elected. I just don't see any plausible way that this was anything started by Mark Richt or anything he'd be willing to entertain."

But just suppose he was. One leading Democrat says Richt would be tough to beat. "Certainly when you have great name recognition, a lot of people know you, and he's got a reputation as a quality individual, that certainly will go far in elections," said Sen. Steve Henson (D-Tucker), the state Senate minority leader.

Richt has coached more victories at Georgia than any man but Vince Dooley. Dooley toyed with a run at governor after he retired. He thought better of it.

Harper predicts Richt will stick to what he knows best. "I have a feeling in three years he'll probably be coaching somewhere and probably beating us," Harper said.