Ga. GOP House caucus grows, elects O’Neal majority leader

Celebrating its historic growth in this month’s elections, the Georgia House Republican caucus on Monday elected a new majority leader, welcomed Governor-elect Nathan Deal and grew by another member when a Democrat switched parties.

The caucus, which will welcome more than two dozen freshmen in January, elected Rep. Larry O’Neal, of Bonaire, to serve as House majority leader. He beat out Rep. James Mills, of Gainesville, for the job. O’Neal will replace former House Majority Leader Jerry Keen, St. Simons Island, who recently resigned.

“We now have momentum on our side,” said O’Neal, who has worked as an accountant and tax lawyer and has served as chairman of the House Ways & Means Committee.

“And the time is right to seize and embrace the opportunity to further our conservative agenda. I want to help us continue to grow and prosper. But most importantly – and hear this loud and clear – we must keep the conservative promises we all made to our constituents and fellow Georgians.”

On Monday, the caucus grew to 109 members – its most ever — when Rep. Alan Powell, of Hartwell, switched sides. The former Democrat appeared at the GOP caucus meeting in the House chamber Monday. Powell said he decided to switch after observing how voters largely voted for Republicans in his Northeast Georgia district.

“My politics have not changed, but I saw the numbers crystal clear last week,”

Powell said. “I am reflecting my constituents.”

Powell said he switched parties with no promises of any plum committee assignments. House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, confirmed Powell’s statement.

“That high water mark that we reached last Tuesday night just keeps getting higher — more Republican members of the Georgia House then at any time in the history of this state,” Ralston said as the caucus applauded.

The caucus also renominated Ralston to serve as the speaker and Rep. Jan Jones, of Milton, to serve as the speaker pro-tem next year. The full House will vote on these positions when it convenes in January.

Deal briefly addressed the caucus as well, saying he intended to be bold and cautious at the same time.

“I am not looking for any foxholes,” the Republican governor-elect said. “I am looking not only to be brave and bold but to also be cautious, to be careful, to be considerate of those who may have opinions different from our own. And as we do that, we will all work together for the benefit of our state.”

The caucus welcomed many new members, including Lynne Riley from north Fulton County. And it gave Rep. Austin Scott, of Tifton, a standing ovation for unseating Democratic U.S. Rep. Jim Marshall.

Georgia’s House Democratic Caucus is planning to choose its leaders Wednesday.

17 comments Add your comment


November 8th, 2010
11:34 am

DPOG – RIP – 1802 – 2010.
Market Place of Ideas – RIP – 2010

Just a taxpayer

November 8th, 2010
12:24 pm

Georgia’s always been a one party state. It used to be D, now its R. Other than the letter by the name, the same conservative values existed for each. It was the national party values of the D that moved Georgia to R side of the equation.


November 8th, 2010
12:25 pm

Tick…..Tick…..Tick……….Tick……..Tick……. Tick………..BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM !!!!!!

Betty in Warner Robins

November 8th, 2010
12:30 pm

Isn’t this the same Larry O’Neal who was Sonny’s tax attorney and involved in all of the sonnygape corruption? Looks like they never learn up there in the ole’ legislature!


November 8th, 2010
12:40 pm

Jan Jones, let’s get moving on Milton County

USG faculty & staff

November 8th, 2010
1:16 pm

We were actually excited last week when the Republicans changed the rules on Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, and now they elected Rep. Larry O’Neal as the majority leader? What are our newly elected Republican leaders thinking??? Are you that naïve – or just ignorant? O’Neal and his neighbors, Perdue and Regent Larry Walker, are fully aware of the antics of their friends (our employer) at the Board of Regents (see the story below) and much, much more that will be disclosed to the public soon:
Link to full story below:

Jayne M. Barker

November 8th, 2010
3:46 pm

Congratulations, Larry O’Neal!!!
Welcome aboard Alan Powell and Eric Johnson!!!
Good choices!!!


November 8th, 2010
3:46 pm

And the stealing will continue.

Jayne M. Barker

November 8th, 2010
3:52 pm

P. S. Austin Scott we are so proud of you down here in Middle Georgia!!!

Freedom lover

November 8th, 2010
4:02 pm

Cut government spending, fire all government workers, legalize freedom in this state again, realize who pays your salaries for a change.

George Washington

November 8th, 2010
4:57 pm

1980-2010 = 30 years

Republican: Presidency from 1980-1992: 12 years: 8 years Reagan (1980-88) 4 years Bush Sr (88-92)

Democrat: 1992-2000: 8 years – Bill Clinton

Republican: 2000-2008: 8 years- GW Bush

Democrat- 2008- Present: Obama 2 years thus far

30 years: GOP presidency for 20 of the past 30 years: 1980-1992, 2000-2008
Democrat: 10 years: 1992-2000, 2008-present

How can one blame President Obama for the current problems in this country, which did not creep up over night, i.e. immigration, healthcare,, large government spending. The GOP was in control of the white house the majority of the past 30 years. What did they do exactly????

Asheville Dawg

November 8th, 2010
5:33 pm

Let’s see, W was president when gas went over $4 a gallon (what do you expect from oil guys) and almost the collapse of the banking system. Now we turn back to them to save us from the depression?

Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me. Anybody ever heard that one before?

Karen Handel

November 8th, 2010
6:33 pm

What about me? I brought my big boy pants.

greg best

November 8th, 2010
8:53 pm

Looks like ol’ LoopHole Larry O’neal has groveled his way to the top of the GOP legislative pile. The folks back home in Mayberry must be so proud. I believe the GOP Majority Leader position comes with 3 concubines/female lobbyists, so ol’ Loophole Larry better get his Viagra perscription filled before he heads back to the Gold Dome.


November 8th, 2010
10:14 pm

I can see my property taxes will continue going up and up and up. That’s what the republicans bring to all Georgians.


November 9th, 2010
7:06 am

O’Neal’s direct knowledge of issues currently “sealed” by our employer and his friends at the Board of Regents will soon come to light. Our excitement about a few of the legislators finally making Cagle somewhat accountable last week was short lived with O’Neal’s appointment. As one colleague stated, this is just the beginning of change. It will take much longer than we had hoped.

Mr G

November 9th, 2010
8:12 am

Republicans have been in control of this state (both houses and the governor’s house)and yet GA is still at the bottom when it comes to education, and jobs? So what exactly have they done for this state? This past election wasn’t some sort of switch in party control, like in Washington; it will just me more of the same… it always has been.