Live blogging the caucus meeting: Ralston wins speaker vote

Update 2;28 p.m.: Rep. Jan Jones of Atlanta has been chosen as speaker pro tem.

Update 2:04 p.m.: OK, folks live blogging is gonna curtail considerably now. I’ll post the results of the elections but have to start focusing on the two stories for tomorrow’s paper. Thanks for reading along with me and don’t forget we’ll have the results of the vote for pro tem and whip soon.

Update 1:56 p.m.: A friend just wrote to remind me that today is the second anniversary of the death of legendary House Speaker Tom Murphy (D-Bremen). It’s quite a coincidence that the next speaker is all but elected today.

Update 1:51 p.m.: Rep. John Lunsford, who is running for majority whip, said in an interview moments ago that he intends to submit a petition to the caucus calling for all caucus officers to face election today, meaning there could still be votes for majority leader and caucus chair.

It’s a significant step if it happens because it would amount to votes of confidence on Majority Leader Jerry Keen and Caucus Chair Donna Sheldon.

Update 1:50 p.m.: They’re getting ready to vote on speaker pro tem. This could take a while as it still takes a majority to win and after each round of voting the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated.

Update 1:25 p.m.: One lawmaker inside the chamber just texted to say Ralston won the speakership in a 55-48 vote.

Update 1:16 p.m.: Ralston told reporters that O’Neal will keep his job as Ways and Means chairman, if he wants it.

Update 1:10 p.m.: Ralston just finished his first press gaggle as speaker-nominee. I’ll have some quotes for you in a bit. Meanwhile, Fran Millar just took a big fat shot at the media in his speech.

Update: 12:50 p.m.: It’s easy to feel a little unfortunate for the people running for speaker pro tem, who are being nominated now. This is going to be feel so anti-climatic.

Jan Jones, Rich Golick, Fran Millar, Len Walker and Clay Cox are running.

Update 12:43 p.m.: “We’ve still got a long day here,” Ralston said from behind the speaker’s desk. “You made a country boy real happy and you honored me and I thank you very, very much for that. Secondly, I need your prayers. I wasn’t teasing when I said earlier we’ve got a big job ahead of us. I need Larry O’Neal, I need Bill Hembree.

“After today, let’s go enjoy Christmas.”

Update 12:39 p.m: David Ralston wins!

Update 12:34 p.m.: Richardson finished speaking, received a subdued, but full, standing ovation, and left the chamber. It was a moving speech, and Richardson several times stopped to gather his composure.

It was unclear from his remarks, however, whether he acknowledged responsibility for the position the caucus is now in.

Whatever “failures we may have made,” he said, “I take full responsibility for those failures. All of them. When you leave here today, you leave them behind, you leave them on my shoulders.”

Update 12:29 p.m.: Richardson: “I should have died.”

Update 12:26 p.m.: “I come here with a heavy heart. I stand here today form this podium this is probably the last time I will ever again have this opportunity and that makes me sad.”

Update 12:25 p.m.: Richardson speaking from behind the podium

Update 12:17 p.m.: While the second ballot is being cast, an interesting thought: There are two Georgia state patrolmen standing guard outside the door to the House chamber and another trooper outside the anteroom.

Considering this is a political function (i.e. the House Republican caucus is not an official body of government) it sure is interesting that state resources are being devoted to it.

Update 12:11 p.m.: Hembree eliminated, second ballot of Ralston v. O’Neal.

Update 12:04 p.m.: Votes are being counted!

Confused update 11:59 a.m.: Well, we know nothing. Richardson is back in the chamber.

Non-awesome update 11:57 a.m.: Nevermind. Richardson just cast his ballot and left the chamber and wouldn’t even look at the group of reporters waiting to ask him questions.

Awesome update 11:53 a.m.: Picking up word now that Richardson will speak at some point.

Update 11:51 a.m.: Aides are now passing out ballots. Looks like it’s going to be a secret ballot. It takes a majority vote to win, meaning it could take more than one ballot.

Update 11:49 a.m.: O’Neal said he will fight for his colleagues.

“I will not allow the indiscretions of a few tarnish the the re of this group of hard-working, committed Republicans,” O’Neal said.

Update 11:45 a.m. Hembree takes a seat and now O’Neal is going for it.

Update 11:44 a.m. Hembree might have won the votes of the press corps by promising to allow reporters back on the floor during House sessions, a practice Richardson ended when he got angry at the media.

Update 11:40 a.m.: Hembree makes it clear: “With a clean slate and new leadership, will also come a new way of doing business. No more ‘hawks.’ No more speaker’s PAC. No more heavy-handed tactics or retribution.”

Update: 11:36 a.m. Ralston wraps up and now Hembree is up.

Update 11:31 a.m.: “This House cannot afford business as usual anymore,” Ralston said.

Can’t help but wonder how Richardson felt about that.

Update 11:25 a.m.: Ralston is now speaking from the well.

Update 11:22 a.m.: Wow, whereas the other two nominating speeches were vanilla “why my guy is great” rhetoric, Knight just took a shot straight at Hembree. Knight said his own House district is more than 30 percent minority and it was tooth and nail to win re-election, and he spoke several times about how important that is to have a safe district for the speaker. Hembree, as we know, has a district that is trending Democratic and is considered anything but safe.

Update 11:21 a.m.: Rep. David Knight (R-Griffin) speaking for Larry O’Neal.

Update 11:18 a.m.: Rep. Mike Coan (R-Lawrenceville) is now nominating Bill Hembree.

Update 11:15 a.m. Rep. Wendell Willard (R-Sandy Springs) is offering a few words in nomination of Wendell Willard. “He’s a man of great honor.”

Update 11:12 a.m.: Nominations are being offered for speaker. Larry O’Neal was named first, then Bill Hembree and David Ralston. Nominations closed. Each person making a nomination are being given three minutes to speak and each candidate are going to get 10 minutes.

Update 11:09 a.m. Wow, Richardson is in the chamber. His name was called during the roll but he didn’t speak up. But there he is.

There are 103 members in the chamber, meaning 52 makes a majority

Update 11:05 .m. Rep. Allen Peake (R-Macon) is now calling the roll of the caucus so they have a head count and know what a majority vote is. Richardson might in the building, but he is definitely not in the chamber right now.

Oh, but his staff is. Chief of staff Clelia Davis and Richardson’s legislative lawyer, Barry Fleming, are both in the chamber.

Original post

The House Republican caucus meeting begins in about six minutes. We’ll live blog the action here.

80 comments Add your comment

Tman

December 17th, 2009
11:13 am

“Congressman Tom Graves” awesome!

Not Bill

December 17th, 2009
11:22 am

Bill Hembree would be the most well respected speaker in years…if not ever.

Legislature fan

December 17th, 2009
11:31 am

Is Wendell Willard nominating himself (11:15 am update)?

Aaron Gould Sheinin

December 17th, 2009
11:37 am

Was a bit hard to tell for a sec wasn’t it?

Not Bill

December 17th, 2009
11:51 am

I am telling you, Bill is the MAN!
Let’s hope he is elected!

Lee

December 17th, 2009
12:01 pm

I’m pulling for David Ralston.

tc

December 17th, 2009
12:02 pm

ralston rambled too much, hembree was organized and coherent, oneal played the sympathy card a bit. i am thinking larry has got it.

silent jay

December 17th, 2009
12:03 pm

The winner gets 3 years in Allenwood.

Tony Soprano

December 17th, 2009
12:05 pm

Flash Update! 12:05 PM …….a shot is heard in the Speakers office! Cops Call!!!!!!! Richardson says one of the candiates try to speed up his sucide attempt again!

Aaron Gould Sheinin

December 17th, 2009
12:06 pm

Tony, that’s not nice

tc

December 17th, 2009
12:08 pm

will they post the vote tally? are will that give ammo to opposition for january?

Aaron Gould Sheinin

December 17th, 2009
12:09 pm

TC, I think we’ll know the vote total, but not how individual members voted.

tc

December 17th, 2009
12:14 pm

any idea on vote tally for first round? if ralston + hembree > oneal, we may have upset.

Lee

December 17th, 2009
12:20 pm

Dude, Capitol Police and State Patrol are all over that place all the time. I don’t think this is an unusual burden on the taxpayers.

Aaron Gould Sheinin

December 17th, 2009
12:20 pm

nobody said it was a burden. it’s about using state resources for political purposes.

Aaron Gould Sheinin

December 17th, 2009
12:21 pm

TC, that’s what I’m wondering, too. unfortunately they didn’t announce the vote. we’ll try and get it after. we’re not allowed out there

Lee

December 17th, 2009
12:21 pm

If it bothers you go tuck a $20 in each of their belts and tell them the next 30 minutes are on you.

Lee

December 17th, 2009
12:22 pm

They have to guard the building because we Republicans are known hooligans who will tear up the place if not watched carefully.

tc

December 17th, 2009
12:30 pm

wipe those tears from your eyes

Aaron Gould Sheinin

December 17th, 2009
12:32 pm

Lee, that made me laugh out loud. If only I had 40 bucks.

ME

December 17th, 2009
12:35 pm

Wow. Whatever you think of Richardson, the man is not well.

Kimberly

December 17th, 2009
12:39 pm

Master manipulator is more like it..

George C

December 17th, 2009
12:39 pm

Aaron, I wonder if you and or an AJC colleague could do this every day sitting outside the governor’s office. Might make for interesting reading.

tc

December 17th, 2009
12:41 pm

there is a God

Lee

December 17th, 2009
12:41 pm

Dude What Would Happen

December 17th, 2009
12:45 pm

David Ralston? Seriously? With all his crazy supporters? The republicans have just elected an ultra right winger whose support base will not allow him to make the compromises that have to be made to govern a state. Wow, what an interesting session it will be this year.

JC

December 17th, 2009
12:45 pm

The sweet voice of reason has finally prevailed.

Capt. Conspiracy Debunker

December 17th, 2009
12:45 pm

GSP provides security as part of their duties as sworn law enforcement officers for the Capitol and surrounding state properties on the hill as part of their duties and obligations prescribed to them in code. The caucus is meeting at the Capitol. Thus, their presence. Way to keep grabbing around in the dark for that lascivious and tawdry connection there, though, you ace reporter, you…

Aaron Gould Sheinin

December 17th, 2009
12:57 pm

Capt., I am over here in the Capitol a couple times a week at least. My office is across the street in the LOB. Those officers are not in the House chamber most days. They’re not even outside the door to the chamber when the Legislature is in session. Besides, my point is that this is a POLITICAL event, not an official government meeting.

Aaron Gould Sheinin

December 17th, 2009
12:57 pm

George, you mean to see who’s coming and going?

tc

December 17th, 2009
1:05 pm

i saw on another website that it was a 3 vote margin… is that true?

Bootney Farnsworth

December 17th, 2009
1:07 pm

unimpressed. regardless who sits in the chair, its the
same group of clowns who can’t tell their heads from a
hole in the ground.

Aaron Gould Sheinin

December 17th, 2009
1:08 pm

that’s what i’m hearing

tc

December 17th, 2009
1:13 pm

cannot verify but this is what once source has stated:

final round: Ralston by 3 votes.

first vote totals: O’Neal 43, Ralston 33, Hembree 27.

tc

December 17th, 2009
1:13 pm

Enter your comments here

Bootney Farnsworth

December 17th, 2009
1:14 pm

and while we all go just a little bit broker,
while most politically unconnected state workers continue
to LOSE wages,

these idiots get together and have a political event
at state expense. what are these clowns doing?
trying to make sure the GOP surrenders its majority
forever?

never heard of leading by example.

silent jay

December 17th, 2009
1:14 pm

The Capitol Police are there to take the new Speaker into custody immediately, saving us years of embarrassment culminating in a gooey ex-wife interview on Fox5.

jeremy

December 17th, 2009
1:16 pm

According to Fran Millar, the media back there behind the glass is “coming after Republicans pretty hard…” Fran, let’s be real, the only thing those folks back there are chasing after is a box of Krispy Kreme doughnuts!

Aaron Gould Sheinin

December 17th, 2009
1:19 pm

Jeremy, yeah, that was a hoot. I stood up behind that glass and waved at everyone.

Throw the Bums Out

December 17th, 2009
1:22 pm

At least the douche bag Richardson is gone – they’re always sorry and have to compose themselves albiet only when they get caught.

Bootney Farnsworth

December 17th, 2009
1:26 pm

waved?
you should have mooned them.

Dan Dawg

December 17th, 2009
1:26 pm

Poor Fran and the Republicans – bless their wittle hearts :(

Don’t violate your oath of office by trying to screw Georgians with a taxpayer-funded natural gas pipeline being pursued by your not-so-secret mistress, and maybe the media will lay off. Oh, and don’t turn a blind eye to it either, because that’s just as bad.

Aaron Gould Sheinin

December 17th, 2009
1:26 pm

Just posted this, but one lawmaker said the vote was 55-48

George

December 17th, 2009
1:27 pm

I finally made my first trip to our Capitol building a few weeks ago at age 58. Seems I “just missed” catching the Governor in his office. I did sign the register and gave my address. Should I expect a note from him at least acknowledging that I was there?

Bubba

December 17th, 2009
1:27 pm

A great day for Georgia.

Aaron Gould Sheinin

December 17th, 2009
1:29 pm

Bootney: Great idea!
Dan Dawg: Seems there’s a lesson there.
George: I”m not sure, to be honest. I’ll be curious to know if you do.

[...] problem anymore” “The people want us to be about what’s important to them” From the AJC: “Update 1:25 p.m.: One lawmaker inside the chamber just texted to say Ralston won the [...]

Base

December 17th, 2009
1:32 pm

What a bunch of idiots and we pay them for this!

catlady

December 17th, 2009
1:34 pm

BPJ

December 17th, 2009
1:42 pm

Question: where does Ralston stand on transportation issues?

Specifically, does he support letting metro Atlanta vote on taxing ourselves for transit? How has he voted on past transport funding bills?

catlady

December 17th, 2009
1:49 pm

see AJC May 2, 2008

Julie

December 17th, 2009
2:12 pm

All republicans are stupids … no matter which one they put in there. Now let see how long this one last

GB

December 17th, 2009
2:12 pm

Good work. I followed the blog to get the news as it happened. One thing though: this is not the “two-year anniversary” of Tom Murphy’s death: it is the “second anniversary.”

[...] All that said, strictly on the merits of the speeches today by the nominees for speaker of the house, I would say the caucus got it right in choosing David Ralston. [...]

Aaron Gould Sheinin

December 17th, 2009
2:14 pm

GB, gracious, everyone’s a copy editor. Fine, I’ll change it. !

RetiredSoldier

December 17th, 2009
2:18 pm

That’s like saying everyone named Julie is stupid. That is a silly comment.

[...] today and stepped away from the computer for a few minutes. I’m back now and see this from the AJC: Update 2;28 p.m.: Rep. Jan Jones of Atlanta has been chosen as speaker pro [...]

Base

December 17th, 2009
3:18 pm

This just shows what a non-functional group looks like. Have mercy on the people of Georgia.

tired of it

December 17th, 2009
3:30 pm

When will people learn that having an affair ruins their lives along with thier families!!

GB

December 17th, 2009
3:31 pm

Thanks for making the change. I feel like I have done something worthwhile today. The lady who our newsletter thinks I am a pain in the a** too.

GB

December 17th, 2009
3:32 pm

The lady who DOES our newsletter. Left out a word. That’s why I am always nice when I point out others’ errors. I leave out words.

Aaron Gould Sheinin

December 17th, 2009
3:36 pm

Ha! Thanks GB!

Kevin from GA

December 17th, 2009
3:41 pm

Aaron- The Capitol Police are a division of the State Police responsible for safety of all citizens on Capitol hill. They are a state resource but they are there for everyone from locals to tourists as well as legislators at all times. I think their use in a meeting where the public may be interested and where security could be an issue is appropriate. As a taxpayer I’d rather pay a few officers for a day than have a bad scene in the Capitol.

Zeb

December 17th, 2009
3:44 pm

Good work Repubs! Two good apples in one day. Now get rid of all the rotten ones in the barrel. You know who they are. House and Senate, if you please. But now GA also badly needs an ethically untainted candidate for gov. How about David Poythress, Jeff Chapman or DuBose Porter? All honorable gentlemen it seems. You can bet on it because all the lobbyists, PACS and big campaign money men are pumping millions to Johnson, Barnes, Oxendine, Deal, Handel. Follow the money.

Kevin from GA

December 17th, 2009
3:46 pm

BTW – The officers may not be positioned at the doors of the chamber but they are guarding the entrances to the building day in and day out – good weather and bad. They are very professional about it too, sometimes with pundits and politicians who think they are above having to have their ID verified.

Aaron Gould Sheinin

December 17th, 2009
3:58 pm

Kevin, thanks for that. I honestly think they were there for Richardson. Once he left, they did, too.

RetiredSoldier

December 17th, 2009
3:58 pm

Aaron-
Who won Majority Whip?

I'm a Man, I'm 40

December 17th, 2009
4:04 pm

Will there be a Chris Henry rememberance day in Georgia this year?

Aaron Gould Sheinin

December 17th, 2009
4:32 pm

Hey soldier, Ed Lindsey from Atlanta beat John Lunsford.

Base

December 17th, 2009
5:03 pm

The Lunsford speech was totally stupid,he needs mental help.He showed he is on the far right and paranoid.

uberVU - social comments

December 17th, 2009
5:31 pm

Social comments and analytics for this post…

This post was mentioned on Twitter by AJCGeorgia: Live blogging the caucus meeting http://bit.ly/4xPOIB…

BPJ

December 17th, 2009
5:39 pm

Ed Lindsey’s a great choice!

Were 50th!

December 17th, 2009
6:32 pm

Great, they elected a Christinazi as Speaker.

JD in Marietta

December 17th, 2009
6:47 pm

I heard snippets of Glen Richardsons tearful farewell speech today. It was pitiful. He sounded like a 5 year old. Anyone else catch it?

How Ignorant Are You

December 17th, 2009
8:39 pm

Aaron Gould Sheinin, are you really that stupid? You are like the butt clowns that whine when
something goes wrong and cries, where were the police, where was the security? Did you show
any criticism for all the security for that political circus today when Joe Biden came to town?
And make a fool of yourself and say his show wasn’t a total political show.
America grows more ignorant every year and Aaron gives up proof.

Sluggo

December 17th, 2009
8:47 pm

Nothing compare to the Chicago Thugs, Cambridge Pansies and West Coast fruit who run the democrat party nationally.

How Angry Are You?

December 17th, 2009
8:54 pm

Man, HIAY, what is your problem? Sounds like you have a few things stuck you know where. I would hate to be as miserable as you seem to be. Talk about a cry baby! By the way, Biden was with Perdue announcing JOBS, which in this GOP-wrecked economy is well worth whatever show was put on in Dawsonville today.

georgia voices

December 18th, 2009
7:53 am

In response to the statements and comments “He (Ralston) particularly mentioned O’Neal, chairman of the Ways and Means Committee that writes tax law, calling him a fine Ways and Means chairman” who’s going to be “a key member of my team.” Ralston has also said he’ll push for measured discussion, followed by a vote, on ethics reforms.”
Our hope is that Rep. David Ralston, as possible new House Speaker, will follow the lead of House Judiciary Chairman Wendell Willard (R-Sandy Springs) who – along with Bill Bozarth and Common Cause – are making a long overdue stand regarding the unethical influences of lobbyists with legislators – and that he will keep in mind that Larry O’Neal, Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, (and “neighbor” of Perdue and former legislastor, Larry Walker – now Regent) was informed by his constituents of unethical practices by the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia and chose to look the other way – as did Perdue and Senate Higher Education Committee Chair, Seth Harp.

Some speculate that the fact that Perdue may be working for the BOR next year had some strong “influence” (as reported by Dick Yarbrough in the Marietta Daily Journal on August 29, 2009).

We encourage Rep. David Ralston to read former AJC reporter Jim Wall’s article dated October 5, 2009 to see the results of the Board of Regents’ “exclusive authority” (quote by Governor Perdue).

Link to full story (copy enclosed):
http://www.atlantaunfiltered.com/2009/10/05/university-execs-deferred-pay-often-hidden-tops-7-million/
There is more – much more.

Tom in Roswell

December 18th, 2009
9:50 am

Time to go over to the Senate and clean house there, starting with Casanova Casey and working down from there.

Broom closet

December 18th, 2009
9:58 am

Let the chips fall where they may.