This morning, Travis Fain of the Macon Telegraph has a piece on state Rep. Larry O’Neal’s entry into the race to replace House Speaker Glenn Richardson that contains at least two ah-ha! bits of intelligence worth your attention.
Here’s the gist:
“What we need the most right now is somebody to calm things down,” said O’Neal, chairman of the House’s tax-code-writing Ways and Means Committee. “We can’t have any distractions. We’re facing (an economic) situation I’ve not known in my lifetime, and I’m a pretty old guy.”
O’Neal, 60, promised a different style than Richardson’s boisterous and often confrontational ways.
He acknowledged that Richardson’s affair was common knowledge at the Capitol following the speaker’s divorce in early 2008. But he said it was the stunning interview Richardson’s ex-wife gave an Atlanta television station late last month that turned the problem into “too much of a distraction.”
Asked Wednesday if he was in the room the night Richardson, Burkhalter, House Majority Leader Jerry Keen and Gov. Sonny Perdue met to discuss Richardson’s future, O’Neal said he was.
“Several people (were) in that room, all very close to Glenn Richardson … all there for him, personally.”
O’Neal said no succession plan was put in place that night that he knew of, and he said he didn’t know why Burkhalter stepped away from the speakership.
He described himself as “a judge-not-and-I-won’t-be-judged kind of guy, as long as the work gets done.” The plan for House Republicans should be to “calm down, get a consensus, get back to work,” he said.
First, it is important that O’Neal admits that Richardson’s affair with a lobbyist was “common knowledge” before Susan Richardson went to WAGA. Claims of ignorance from other prominent House members have been drawing private hoots of derision from rank-and-file members of the GOP caucus. Credibility is important when seeking a leadership position.
The question is whether, politically, it’s better to pretend ignorance, or to acknowledge reality – and then be required to explain your own inaction in the matter.
Secondly, it is significant that O’Neal was one of a very small handful invited into the room when the very first discussions about replacing Richardson took place, in the home of Gov. Sonny Perdue. A spokesman for the governor says Perdue did not call the meeting. But so far, no one has been able to say who did issue the invitations, or who was on the closely held guest list.
O’Neal, a close Houston County associate of Perdue, is a new addition.
To quote the great Woody Allen, 90 percent of life is just showing up. The other 10 percent is knowing exactly where and when to do it.
In other tidbits surrounding House races for leadership positions:
– Bill Hembree of Villa Rica has declared his candidacy for the speakership, with a Facebook page and a message to his GOP colleagues that reads, in part:
“[A}s Georgians and as members of the Republican Caucus of the Georgia House of Representatives, we find ourselves at a crucial point and in need of strong, moral and ethical leadership. Our constituents are looking to us to quickly elect a new Speaker who can bring about the real change expected of us.</blockquote>
– John Lunsford of McDonough is running for majority whip.
U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson was on the phone yesterday, talking about a confirmation timetable for David Adelman of Decatur, who’s been nominated to become the U.S. ambassador to Singapore.
Isakson mentioned something I hadn’t realized: The current debate in the Senate over health care reform is the longest sustained discussion in the chamber since the Civil Rights legislation of the 1960s.
“They’ve got just so many of these stenographers that have to do every word of every speech of every motion of every colloquy on the floor. And they’re working 18 hours a day, around the clock, 27 days a month. They are worn out,” he said.
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