An announcement for House speaker and related matters

Over at the Macon Telegraph, on the political blog Lucid Idiocy, Travis Fain has the announcement by state Rep. Larry O’Neal, the Republican from Warner Robins that he’s a candidate to replace Glenn Richardson as House speaker.

Writes Fain:

O’Neal, who has been fighting the flu most of this week, said he emailed his colleagues in the House today to tell them “that I intend to seek the speakership.”

“What we need the most right now is somebody to calm things down. …” said O’Neal, chairman of the House’s tax-code-writing committee, Ways and Means. “We can’t have any distractions. We’re facing (an economic) situation I’ve not known in my life time, and I’m a pretty old guy.”

O’Neal’s close friendship with Gov. Sonny Perdue is well known. We’re also hearing that House Majority Leader Jerry Keen of St. Simons Island, who looks to be the top surviving Republican in the leadership, is backing O’Neal.

Reverberations from Richardson’s resignation, largely rising out of an affair he had with an Atlanta Gas Light lobbyist, continued to penetrate the 2010 race for governor on Wednesday.

The relationship between money and the Legislature is on the minds of many.

Some kind soul was good enough to send this copy of a fund-raising letter sent by Republican campaign for governor Eric Johnson, over the signatures of five former colleagues in the Senate: President pro tem Tommie Williams of Lyons, Majority Leader Chip Rogers of Woodstock, Caucus Chair Dan Moody of Dunwoody, and Rules Chairman Don Balfour of Snellville.

On Dec. 16, $1,000 will get you private time with Johnson at the Ansley Golf Club.

Also Wednesday, former Gov. Roy Barnes decided that angst in the state Capitol was important enough to interrupt himself, in an e-mail to supporters:

I had planned on emailing you today to encourage you to visit our revamped website.

However, like many Georgians this week, I have other things weighing on my mind.

During my travels across our state, many of you have expressed to me your disappointment in the culture of corruption that seems to run rampant under the Gold Dome, and I share your dismay. Just last week, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that lobbyists have spent $1.3 million to entertain and influence our state’s public officials this year alone.

When I hear this news, I think about the hardworking Georgians I’ve met over the last several months – folks who need state leadership on their side now more than ever – and frankly, I’m more than just disappointed. I’m fed up.

Instead of standing up for the citizens of our state, it seems that our elected officials are looking out for the special interest groups that foot the bill for luxurious out-of-town trips, high-priced meals, and extravagant outings to sporting events and concerts…and it needs to stop.

Worth noting: No mention of Republicans or the Republican party.

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22 comments Add your comment


December 9th, 2009
6:27 pm

The Governor and Keen have made their choice. The rest of the Caucus needs to rally behind David Ralston, the only choice for real change.

Mike Smith

December 9th, 2009
7:06 pm

Because Roy, with the record setting $20 million he raised in his last run for Governor, never hit a special interest group or lobbyist up for a little cash.

A Choice, Not an Echo

December 9th, 2009
7:20 pm

Roy Barnes complaining about a ‘culture of corruption is rich… but pretending David Ralston is the only choice for real change is even more laughable. I like David, but the crazies he has behind him can hardly get themselves out of the rain, much less get us out of the financial crisis we now face. What we need right now is to calm down and bring in experienced leadership. Larry O’Neal will be a fabulous Speaker.


December 9th, 2009
9:32 pm

Yeah right. The fact Jerry Keen is backing Larry O’Neal is reason enough to not support him. Jerry Keen himself must be replaced.

sally austin

December 9th, 2009
11:27 pm

Larry O’Neal is simply not an option. His ties to the Governor go far too deep. He’s his personal attorney. He represented him on the bogus land deal. The Democrats will have a field day. A Governor from Houston County and a Speaker from Houston County, there is no way. And if the Governor is not the kiss of death, Jerry Keen and Earl Ehrhart defiantly are.

Rod Sanders

December 9th, 2009
11:38 pm

O’Neal is a nice guy, but he’s Jerry Keen’s guy and Keen has no support in the Republican caucus. The only people pushing O’Neal are the old Richardson people who want to keep their power. The House will not stand for the Governor picking the Speaker. And they will not stand for Jerry Keen staying on as Majority Leader. This caucus needs new blood. Ralston, Golick, Jones, all would be improvements. O’Neal was a Democrat less than eight years ago. He served one term in the House before the Governor made him the Chairman of the House Ways and Means committee. There were many far deserving members than he for that Chairmanship.

James Harris

December 9th, 2009
11:45 pm

I agree with Rod Sanders. I am sick of these Democrats that switched to the Republican party just to get elected or get a chairmanship. The next Speaker should be a real Republican and that means one who didn’t vote for Michael Dukakis.

Roger Nelson

December 10th, 2009
12:12 am

Crazies? What would you call Richardson and his cronies (Keen, Burkhalter, Oneal, the list goes on)? They re-invented crazy. It’s time to move on from the idea that you must be a former Democrat to govern.

Ga Values

December 10th, 2009
6:30 am

Larry O’Neal was part of the politically influential group that stiffed Georgia citizens and Sportsmen in the Oaky Woods disaster. He should not be allowed to be the 2nd most powerful man in Georgia.

Ga Values

December 10th, 2009
6:35 am

Oaky Woods Wildlife Management Area

Once there was a beautiful place called Oaky Woods in Houston County, not far south of Macon and Warner Robins. For most of the 20th century, it was owned by a succession of paper companies. They harvested large tracts of it for pulpwood and replanted new crops of trees, but much of Oaky Woods remained pristine wilderness. The last paper company to own Oaky Woods was Weyerhaeuser. For most of the past few decades, Weyerhaeuser leased the land to the state for a nominal fee, and the state made it available to the citizens for hunting and other outdoor recreation as Oaky Woods Wildlife Management Area.

Besides its recreational value, Oaky Woods was essential habitat for many plants and animals, many of which are being pushed toward extinction, and it is considered the core habitat for black bears in central Georgia. For this reason, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources had documented Oaky Woods as a prime target for the state to acquire if ever the opportunity should present itself.

Brief Timeline of Recent Events

Suddenly, a few years ago, things began to happen.

* July, 2003: Larry O’Neal, Governor Perdue’s personal attorney, forms Maryson, LLC, on behalf of Governor Sonny Perdue and his wife, Mary. Note that this same Larry O’Neal is also a state representative, chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, and a member of the board of the Columbus Bank and Trust (about which, more will be revealed).
* Maryson, LLC, buys 100 acres of land adjacent to Oaky Woods.
* February, 2004: Weyerhaeuser announced its intention to sell Oaky Woods, with a preference for selling it to a buyer who would use it for nature conservation.
* The Nature Conservancy announced plans to lend $25,000,000 to the Georgia Chapter of the Nature Conservancy to buy the land. Their only condition was that the state of Georgia must issue a letter declaring its intention to buy the land at some unspecified future date. This letter would not be a specific commitment by the state to buy the land by any particular deadline or at any particular price, just a general expression of interest.
* Citing budget constraints, and in spite of the Department of Natural Resources having identified Oaky Woods as a prime acquisition target, and despite the fact that the Nature Conservancy was not even requesting a specific or near-term commitment to buy Oaky Woods, Governor Perdue declined to issue the requested letter. The Nature Conservancy then withdrew its offer to buy Oaky Woods.
* September, 2004: A consortium of Houston County businessmen (which would later become known as “Winding River Development”) purchased Oaky Woods from Weyerhaeuser. The purchase was financed by Columbus Bank and Trust. (Remember them? Rep. Larry O’Neal is a member of the board?)
* September, 2006: One of the owners of Oaky Woods is cited for allegedly hunting doves illegally in nearby Peach County. One of the other owners of Oaky Woods was also present, along with a number of prominent businessmen and the sherriff of Houston County, but only one, the owner of the property where the hunt occurred, was cited. During the arrest, the alleged perpetrator stated that there would be implications for the state’s lease of Oaky Woods if charges were pursued. The alleged perpetrator went so far as to telephone Noel Holcomb, the Commissioner of the Department of Natural Resources to request that he order the game wardens to leave the property. To his credit, Holcomb refused to do this and the citation was issued.
* February, 2007: After years of failure of the “Winding River Development” to get past zoning restrictions, and after several bills to permit the development of “private cities” failed to get past the legislature on constitutional grounds, SR 309 was introduced into the legislature. This bill was a proposal to amend the state constitution to permit these “private cities” or “infrastructure development districts.” Such an amendment requires approval by the state’s voters, and it is this amendment that will appear on this November’s ballot as Amendment #3, Infrastructure Development Districts.
* March 27, 2007: In a display of old-fashioned “midnight legislation,” SR 309 is adopted by the state legislature. The state senate adjourned after the bill was defeated, then was called back into session after many of the bill’s opponents had gone home for the evening. The “repacked” senate approved the bill at 5:50 PM.
* April, 2007: The state’s lease on Oaky Woods was increased by 24%, making it the most expensive leased Wildlife Mangement Area in Georgia.


December 10th, 2009
6:37 am

I am outraged at O’Neal wanting to lead. Eric Erickson said it best on Peach Pundit.

I’m sorry, but I read these two paragraphs and was struck by a profound sense that O’Neal is fine with all the scotch and strippers, but Glenn’s ex-wife turned Glenn into a distraction.

O’Neal promised a different style than Richardson’s boisterous and often confrontational ways. O’Neal acknowledged that Richardson’s affair was common knowledge at the Capitol following Richardson’s divorce in early 2008. But he said it was the stunning interview Richardson’s ex-wife gave to an Atlanta TV station late last month that turned a problem into “too much of a distraction.”

O’Neal said he didn’t know why Burkhalter is stepping away from the speaker’s office and described himself as “a judge-not and I-won’t-be-judged kind of guy, as long as the work gets done.”

Is that really the guy we want? It seems the “hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil” management style got us where we are in the first place.

I think we might need a Google candidate. Their motto is “don’t be evil.” Of course, I’ve always thought that seemed to be an admission against interests that their default was evil, but we could use some “don’t be evil” types.

Let’s be honest — screwing around behind your wife’s back is pretty crappy and if you’re going to cheat on someone who can sue you for half, I suspect you’ll have even less of a problem screwing your principles since they can’t sue you for half.

Ga Values

December 10th, 2009
6:38 am

Email your Representative and tell him Georgia deserves better than Larry O’Neal

Outraged Republican

December 10th, 2009
6:43 am

I’m not sure that what the party needs right now is Sonny’s lawyer who pushed through a retroactive tax cut for him or someone who is okay with the frat house antics of late at the Gold Dome…


December 10th, 2009
6:51 am

Richardsons affair with a lobbyist was ok UNTIL IT BECAME “TOO MUCH OF A DISTRACTION.” According to O’Neal everyone under the gold dome knew about Richardsons AFFAIR WITH A LOBBYIST and yet LARRY O’NEAL DID NOTHING!

Georgians for Change

December 10th, 2009
6:58 am

We find it interesting and alarming (yet not surprising) that Larry Walker may be the new House Speaker as that would allow Governor Perdue to maintain his control a bit longer. Many Georgians want a new House Speaker that is not a member of Perdue’s hometown and “club.” If legislators truly want a change – as they profess they do during an election year – let the new House Speaker be from a different area than Perdue.

Georgians for Change

December 10th, 2009
7:10 am

Funny……we meant “Larry O’Neal” but both O’Neal and former legislator Larry Walker are both from Perdue’s area and members of Perdue’s “club.” We understand from those that know that Walker maintains Perdue’s control at the University System of Georgia’s Board of Regents now.


December 10th, 2009
8:14 am

Oneal’s statements are proof that sometimes it is better to remain silent and assumed clueless than to remove all doubt.

Where are the Democrats

December 10th, 2009
8:29 am

Where is Jane Kidd, State Chair of the Democratic Party? Anyone seen or heard anything substantive other than ask for money to pay their no account state party staffers. She gets involved in Atlanta politics but doesn’t say a word about STATE POLITICS. No mention about the corruption. (EMAIL BLASTS-DON’T COUNT!) No mention about anything that makes sense. For goodness sake, do we even know what she looks like? Where is the press conference denouncing or even for that matter promoting legislators concentrate on kitchen table issues for working class families. Jane Kidd do us a favor and resign. I am so sorry I wasted my vote on Ms. Kidd to elect her for State Chair. What a miserable excuse Democrats have for state chair.


December 10th, 2009
9:11 am

I’d take General Sherman over Jerry Keen.


December 10th, 2009
9:31 am

Breaking news!! Just received an email from John Lunsford from McDoungh. He has announced he is running for Majority Whip. You heard here here first sports fans.

Churchill's MOM

December 10th, 2009
9:41 am

If the best we can do is Larry O’Neal , Sonny’s shyster lawyer, I’d just as soon keep Richardson. I have what it takes to have influence over Richardson.


December 10th, 2009
11:52 am

New Goodgle Group: Georgians for Kleptocracy. Charter members invited to join. Invitations issued to Keen, O’neal, Perdue, Johnson, Barnes, D. Scott, Ox, Chambliss, Reynolds guys, DOT folks, “Private Partners”, probation companies, road builders, etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc.