A meeting of House GOP caucus in the works?

When House Speaker Glenn Richardson had his conference call with his Republican colleagues last week, to announce both his resignation and successor, one of the things that really cheesed off the rank-and-file was the mute button.

Only three people were authorized to speak: Richardson, Speaker pro tem Mark Burkhalter of Johns Creek, who now takes the reins, and House Majority Leader Jerry Keen of St. Simons.

That wasn’t the case when Richardson announced his attempt at suicide a few weeks earlier. The mikes were open then, ready for expressions of sympathy and support.

The top-down flow of decisions was referenced in an interview on Friday 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 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.”

That was followed by a call on Saturday from state Rep. Michael Harden (R-Toccoa) for a House caucus election:

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.

All of which is a long way of saying that we’re told a meeting of the House Republican Caucus is in the works for Friday, somewhere on the campus of Mercer University in Macon, for an airing out of laundry.

The Rome News-Tribune has this bit of news today that’s likely to force a sigh from metro Atlanta business types:

There’s little hope of new money to fix Georgia’s ailing transportation network, according to the district’s representative to the State Transportation Board.

David Doss of Rome said he’s even less optimistic about the upcoming Georgia General Assembly session than he was in the three previous years. Some local legislators are saying he’s not far off the mark.

“I think we have to remain hopeful, but the state’s financial situation is going to make it hard,” said state Rep. Katie Dempsey, R-Rome. “And, if you go outside the Atlanta area the concern for it has diminished. For most of our state, (traffic congestion) is an occasional challenge rather than a daily one.”

Doss said the “window of opportunity” has likely passed to ask voters to approve a 1-cent statewide transportation sales tax, and the shortfall first announced by the board in 2007 has grown.

The Georgia Department of Transportation will get through 2010 with some more cutbacks, he said, but there is a real possibility there won’t be enough money in 2011 to provide the required 20-percent match for $1.2 billion in federal funds.

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21 comments Add your comment


December 7th, 2009
9:20 am

My man Ox will clean up all the corruption in the state


December 7th, 2009
9:32 am

How can the Ox clean up all the corruption when he’s so busy filling out the accident reports about all of those state-provided Crown Victorias that he wrecked?


December 7th, 2009
9:38 am

Erick Erickson at redstate.com is calling for a Georgia legislature GOP purge. Not to replace ‘em with Democrats, but with honest Republicans. Whether it’s possible, who knows. It couldn’t hurt, that’s for sure. Also, Ox is a crook.

Road Scholar

December 7th, 2009
9:44 am

As for the election of a new Speaker, set the schedule now. Throw your hat in the ring by Dec 24 and vote the week of Jan 1. If the members don’t already know you, your abilities, and your stance, you wouldn’t be elected anyway. This would enable the new speaker to get ready for the new session. Anything less would be grandstanding.Why wait? Aren’t the Repubs the party of decisiveness? Oh yeah, that brings me to…

As for transportation funding, let’s get going. “… but the state’s financial situation is going to make it hard,”. So what else is news? It has always been the excuse. Doss says that a statewide tax is dead. Good. That is not what is needed unless you adjust the present tax to inflation and have people pay what they should have been paying all along. Oh by the way hows that PPP’s going? Nothing to date? How will that apply to arterials and local needs?

Why not vote to allow local juristicsions (Counties, cities) to vote to have a joint SPLOST tax for a regional approach. The needs of Atlanta, or ant other urban areas are different from the rural parts of the state. The SPLOST would have to be voted on by the applicable constituents, and would have a list of projects with their scpoes and schedules attached. Very democratic; very defined, inclusive of transit, is what is needed.

Al Bundy

December 7th, 2009
9:49 am

Weren’t all the tax breaks to businesses supposed to shield the state from any economic downturn? Without those ghastly stimulus funds, the General Assembly would’ve had…wait for it….’raise taxes.’


December 7th, 2009
9:50 am

These guys in power have done NOTHING to address the state’s serious issues, instead, focusing on using the power of govt. to help the already powerful, see AGLA, ect.

Their holier than thow hypocritical attitude and posturing only makes them even more unendurable…

get these guys out of here

[...] AJC’s Jim Galloway is reporting that a meeting of the “House Republican Caucus is in the works for Friday, somewhere on the [...]


December 7th, 2009
10:35 am


Agree with you on a election of a speaker. Get it done before the session. If it’s MB so be it, then he can do the job with the full support of the majority. If it’s DR, same thing applies. The only wrong answer is for MB to wait till the session is over.

Mr. Grumpy

December 7th, 2009
10:40 am

New Speaker Burkhalter has already announced plans to lower taxes, even after anticipating the additional cuts state agencie are preparing to give. We’re not sure which taxes he’s talking about. The vehicle ad valorem tax? State income tax? State sales tax? Instead, he ought to be talking about looking at all the tax exemptions GOP House and Senate members have already given to their big business buddies, and have THEM pay their fare share. If the exemptions were supposed to stimulate, over the years, more jobs in Georgia, we wouldn’t have one of the nation’s highest rates of unemploymnet. So, where did the money go that the business community didn’t have to pay in taxes? Check the account column titled “Profit.”


December 7th, 2009
10:52 am

The rank-and-file-ers may revolt against the leadership, as they should, and insist on a speaker election with Ralston as their man.

ITP Conservative

December 7th, 2009
10:53 am

Glenn goes out like he came in and governed – big surprise. I agree with a purge of many of the state republicans – they aren’t much different from the democrats of the past. Oh yeah, they were the democrats of the past who conveniently switched parties. Politicians will always be politicians.

Will Jones - Atlanta Jeffersonian Exegesis

December 7th, 2009
11:08 am

Met Mark Burkhalter many years ago when he and a shyster lawyer were running a “funnel” to the lawyer’s avarice and incompetence called something like Fathers Are Parents, Too.

Burkhalter is corrupt, adulterating pervert, and violator of the Public Trust, Glenn Richardson’s “pal.”

Someone needs to do some “sniffing” beyond the ethics violation George Anderson turned up on Burkhalter: Birds of Feather flock together.

Richardson’s a corrupt no-man. Burkhalter knew it, is just like him, or is too stupid to govern.

Churchill's MOM

December 7th, 2009
11:25 am

I have talked to several people who don’t think Mark Burkhalter or Jerry Keen are a step up from Richardson. What do we have to lose if they have a new election. It is sad to say but about the only person I trust is the house is Chapman but what chance does a honest man have?

Churchill's MOM

December 7th, 2009
11:31 am

The people I have talked to thinks Jerry Keen is REALLY BAD. Maybe Will Jones knows what he is talking about.


December 7th, 2009
11:46 am

Well, Jerry Keen did throw half a million metro commuters (and, truly bizarre for a Republican, the metro chamber of commerce) under the bus last year, when MARTA was trying desperately to get permission to use money they already had sitting in the bank to make payroll. He’s certainly good at being a politician. In my mind that’s a bad thing.

Ken in Eastman

December 7th, 2009
11:46 am

Here is the question: Why would Mark Burkhalter insist on moving the election for Georgia House Speaker as far into 2010 as possible? This benefits no one but Mark Burkhalter. In fact, it hurts the GOP brand with voters.Republicans with good sense do not want Glenn Richardson’s scandal brought forward four months into an election year. Good grief, Burkhalter! How selfish and power hungry are you?

Anyone with close ties to Glenn Richardson is suspect and should not stand for the speakership.

Bob in Winder

December 7th, 2009
12:00 pm

Too bad we don’t have a 2 party system here in Georgia, Georgia deserves better that the corruption party. I gave up on the GOP & became a member of Libertarian party when Saxby got elected.


December 7th, 2009
1:23 pm

@Road Scholar there’s a reason the regional approach is not favored at this time. Burkhalter and his ilk want a Milton County. They are not going to allow Cobb, Fulton, Dekalb or Gwinnett solve their issues without getting Milton County. Bottom line…regional cooperation will tie Fulton into Cobb, Gwinnett and Dekalb together and delay any movement on a 160th county!

Burkhalter use to take money from Fulton through Mitch Skandalakis (disgraced person) when he ran his art project. Once Mitch got caught he has been on a crusade to add more government to North Fulton. Funny thing…Sandy Springs (Hammond) has always been in Fulton County. So Burky’s efforts to “steal” it under it was part of Milton is a lie.

As long as Burky’s the Speaker our transportation problems will remain.

Dismayed and Disgusted

December 7th, 2009
2:26 pm

As someone who has long been around politics in GA and viewed the inner workings of the Capitol (albeit from a distance), let me start by saying that Burkhalter is a nice guy. Smart, level headed. But, he and Jerry Keen both knew about the lobbyist and others. Period. To say they did not is dishonest. However, if they didn’t know then they were the only two in the Capitol. The rumors even spread to here in S. Ga. As for AGL, well, they knew and were fine with the relationships until a certain lady there started screaming if she didn’t get her job back she was going to the press with the story.(She was a former reporter with the AJC). The rest is history. Bobby Kahn found out and filed an ethics complaint, etc. As someone who watched the Democrats perputuate the same type behavior it has been interesting to watch the Republicans take it to a new level. One is NO better than the other. As for the Democratic leadership, they and others need to remember just a few years back. All of them knew about many of their collegues in the same situations. 100% percent knew. So frankly, their hypocritical attitudes of moral superiority are disgusting. The “good ole boy” system has never ended. It just became a new set of faces. Frankly, at this point in time it might be better for Georgians to try a Libertarian as what they have gotten to date from D and Rs had not been of “pride” worthy stature.

[...] was true literally as well. As Jim Galloway of the AJC reports, the conference call was set up to allow statements only by Richardson, Burkhalter and [...]

Aaron Burr V. Mexico

December 7th, 2009
5:26 pm

Electing a Libertarian to run your government is like hiring a termite to watch your house while you’re away on vacation.