Below is House Speaker Glenn Richardson’s statement of resignation. It is peculiarly absent of any acceptance of any responsibility. Nor is it the most graceful set of exit lines, but grace was never his strong point – passion was, and it ultimately did him in.
The key to the statement is Richardson’s Jan. 1 resignation date. One would have to interpret this as postponement any challenge to Mark Burkhalter, who now becomes the new speaker.
House rules give the speaker 120 days – four months – to respond to any petition from the GOP caucus for a new election. That would push the issue to the end of April, when the session is likely to be over, favors have been doled out, and alliances built. (But the deadline could give the Senate some leverage in the final days.)
At the state Capitol, Majority Leader Jerry Keen, who has been mentioned as a possible candidate for speaker, left his office following the conference call and was immediately mobbed by waiting reporters. He had little to say, describing the call as both personal and private.
But he sought to assure anyone listening that Republicans remained in control:
“We have a good leadership team and a very strong caucus….As far as doing our job, and our responsibility [for] state government, and we’ll continue to do that….State government and the state of Georgia is bigger than any one person…there are good people in place and we’re going to continue to be able to govern.”
And this just came in from Sadie Fields, leader of the Georgia Christian Alliance:
“Georgia has lost what could have been a great leader in Speaker Richardson due to his personal failings. I trust he will seek the help he needs to get his life on track for himself – and for his children.”
Here’s Richardson’s statement:
“Effective January 1, 2010, I will resign my position as Speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives and as state Representative for the 19th District in Paulding County.
It has been an honor to serve the citizens of Paulding County as their Representative for 14 years and as Speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives for the last five years. During this time, I have appreciated working with the members of the House and the people of Georgia to keep state government efficient and ensure a low tax burden for our fellow Georgians.
As Speaker, I have been well served by the entire staff of the House of Representatives, especially the staff in the Speaker’s Office. To each of them I offer my profound thanks for their tireless efforts. And to my many friends and supporters throughout the state, thank you for standing by me even in the most difficult times. My service would not have been possible without you.
I am confident that House Leadership will continue to lead the House and its members as they serve all Georgians to the best of their abilities.
I recently made public that I have suffered from depression for many years. I continue to seek treatment and have made progress in dealing with this disease. In making this public disclosure, it was my hope to raise awareness and encourage others who suffer from this disease to come forward and seek treatment. I fear that the media attention of this week has deflected this message and done harm to many people who suffer from this condition.
I am thankful for the opportunities my service afforded me to make Georgia’s future brighter. Though I will no longer be serving in elected office, my commitment to see a better tomorrow for our state remains. As always, I am confident that Georgia’s best days are still ahead.”
For instant updates, follow me on Twitter.