A word from a past candidate for House speaker

The question before the state Capitol is whether Speaker pro tem Mark Burkhalter, who four weeks from today is scheduled to drop the “pro tem” from that title, will face a challenge from within the House Republican caucus.

Burkhalter has worked throughout most of today to create an atmosphere of fait accompli.

But my AJC colleague Aaron Gould Sheinin just finished a conversation with state Rep. David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge) who last year engineered an unsuccessful challenge to House Speaker Glenn Richardson.

We’ll let you parse what Ralston said:

“There’s a lot of discussions going on. I haven’t made calls [about running for speaker]. I’ve received calls. But there are a lot of discussions going on. I think that’s to be expected. We’ll kind of see how things play out here over the days or weeks.

“I think there is a significant amount of serious concern amongst Republican members of the state House over what I would describe as the lack of outreach and the lack of communication over the past few days. A feeling that maybe decisions were being made and were going to be handed down as accomplished facts without any input from rank-and-file members.

“I also think there is some concern, quite frankly, over what allowed us to get into this situation as a caucus. I think it’s those two things that are causing a fair amount of concern and discussion. But I think, it’s things that will lead to some healthy discussions and, ultimately, we’ll all be the better for it.”

All of which should make for an interesting weekend.

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22 comments Add your comment


December 4th, 2009
4:08 pm

Ralston for speaker, he had the courage to run against Richardson. He’ll be a good one

Real Rich

December 4th, 2009
4:09 pm

Rep. Ralston’s points are dead on. House leadership’s conduct here is how they have treated the public at large. They are completely inept. Their only goal is to consolidate and keep personal power. Sweeping change is needed (but not likely).

Dafuskie Island

December 4th, 2009
4:40 pm

Uggh. That won’t help business!!!


December 4th, 2009
4:52 pm

If it were the voters deciding Ralston would be a shoo in. Go David Ralston!


December 4th, 2009
4:56 pm

Burkhalter = Mitch Scandalakis


December 4th, 2009
5:07 pm

Again, the crux of the issue: Mr. Burkhalter claims,

“At the time” he did not know…

Mr. Burkhalter, when did you know? Since there had been an ethics violation filed and dismissed, and since the speaker had publicly claimed it was a “baseless” charge, what was your duty when you learned? What did you do?

We have a right to know, yes? Someone please ask him on the record…


December 4th, 2009
5:20 pm

I hear Burkhalter is tight with the Pope

GA. Capitol

December 4th, 2009
5:47 pm

Burkhalter should really have great offers from Lobbyist for a Daufuskie Island, S.C. type trip with the power he will now have. I’m sure he would love a return trip plus with Rusty Kidd on the inside now, planning will be easy.


December 4th, 2009
5:52 pm

Will the strippers come to the capitol, or will the legislators go to the strippers?


December 4th, 2009
5:54 pm

Or will the strippers camp out at Johns Creek?


December 4th, 2009
6:38 pm

Burkhalter says he has “no skeletons” Is that the Bill Clinton definition of skeletons? GOP leadership will be meeting at the Cheetah now.

Rep. Michael Harden (R-Toccoa)

December 4th, 2009
6:56 pm

Only An Election Allows The House To Move Forward.
By Representative Michael Harden (R-Toccoa)

By now, every Georgian knows that Speaker Glenn Richardson has resigned due to a truckload of personal problems. While I am glad he resigned, I also sincerely hope that he obtains the help he needs and finds peace in the years to come.

Now that this chapter is almost closed, it is time for the Georgia House of Representatives to move on and get back to the business of this state. Unemployment has surged across the state, especially in rural areas, impacting countless Georgia families. State revenues continue to decline damaging everything from public safety to public education. It is long past time we got back to doing what the people elected us to do.

However, we cannot truly move on and begin a fresh start until a new Speaker is fully and fairly elected by the entire House. We must have an election to truly close this chapter and move forward as a legislative body, and that election should happen before the General Assembly Session begins.

The process has worked as the Constitution intends. The Speaker Pro-Tempore will assume the duties of the office temporarily and has 120 days to call an election. However, the calendar undermines what the House needs to do to move past this episode. Because Speaker Richardson is not officially resigning until January 1, the temporary Speaker could serve through the Session without calling for an election. The House would only have a temporary leader, not a fully respected one. This situation is not acceptable to me or to a significant number of my colleagues.

The longer we wait to hold a real election, the longer this drama will continue and the more damage it will do to the House and to our state.

With all the budget and policy challenges in these difficult times, Georgia needs a Speaker of the House with the full, unquestioned support of the House of Representatives. Waiting until the end of the Session, or worse, having an election in the middle of a Session, only hinders the House’s ability to pass meaningful legislation and from an “inside baseball” perspective makes the House weaker in its negotiations with the other branches of state government.

We have nothing to fear from open, transparent, and honest government. Let us clear the air and start fresh by electing a Speaker with a clear mandate to lead.

Please do not misunderstand my purpose here. I am not opposed to our current leadership. If fact, I personally like them and voted for them. I would very seriously consider Mark Burkhalter or Jerry Keen if they offered themselves for Speaker. They are strong and capable leaders.

However, a temporary Speaker hurts the House and hurts our ability to govern effectively. There is not a legitimate reason to delay an election. The House can hold an election the first week in January or on the first day of the Session very easily. Then, and only then, will this chapter finally be closed and the House and the state it serves can finally move forward.


Will Jones - Atlanta Jeffersonian Exegesis

December 4th, 2009
7:10 pm

Burkhalter is an admitted ethics violator

Who knows if the Gay Old Perverts in Georgia, farm team for the Roman Anti-Christ’s “Fifth Column” yet to be brought to justice for financing Hitler, killing Kennedy and KIng to send us to die for the pope in Vietnam, or for 9/11, can do any better?


December 4th, 2009
7:37 pm

Rep. Harden makes excellent points. Sunshine is the best disinfectant.

Screw Up Birther, Deather,

December 4th, 2009
8:04 pm

Burkhalter should take a page out of the Tiger Woods affair! Deny! Pay them off under the table! Deny again like Sara Palin that Obama was born in South Central LA………

Outside Insider

December 4th, 2009
11:52 pm

Ralston is the best option to rally a new House leadership platform. It is way too early, and there are too many skeleton’s and incredible, over righteous successors claiming a premature victory to the Speaker’s office…


December 5th, 2009
12:34 am

It seems clear that Mark Burkhalter has some major credibility problems. David Ralston, please step up!

[...] Republican pointed out an open letter of sorts posted by Rep. Michael Harden of Toccoa in the comment section of the AJC. Put that with David Ralston’s comment as posted [...]

[...] And, on top of all this, it also allows the incoming Speaker to prevent the majority caucus from holding an election on who should be Speaker. The grumbling on that issue has already been noted here and elsewhere. [...]

[...] with state Rep. David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge), who challenged the speaker last year. Ralston told my AJC colleague Aaron Gould Sheinin: “I think there is a significant amount of serious concern amongst Republican members of the state [...]

Mr. Grumpy

December 7th, 2009
10:56 am

Republicans have shown us just how ill-prepared they’ve been in governing. All one has to do is look at this sorry chapter in House history. Richardson squandered an opportunity to give meaningful leadership in managing the state’s business. Instaed, he spent his time worrying more about how much power and control he could accumulate. He not only iced Democrat members out of the process, he did the same to rank and file Republican members who wouldn’t carry his favorite bills. He, Burkhalter, Keen, their most trusted committee chairs, and their “Hawks,” controlled everything that went on legislatively in the House. Now, we’re expected to trust the remnance of House leadership to bring “a new day to the House.” HORSE S%&T !!!!

[...] has been said over the last week or so about David Ralston running for Speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives. The basic [...]