Archive for December, 2009

An accelerated race for House speaker

Gov. Sonny Perdue greets state House members just before the doors were closed. John Spink/jspink@ajc.com

Gov. Sonny Perdue greets state House members just before the doors were closed. John Spink/jspink@ajc.com

Updated at 12:45 p.m.: Gov. Sonny Perdue, whose last session of the Legislature could be derailed by an out-of-control fight to replace Speaker Glenn Richardson, made a surprise visit to a closed-door meeting of the House Republican caucus.

My AJC colleague Aaron Gould Sheinin has details at Gold Dome Live.

Perdue has left, and the GOP lawmakers remain behind closed doors. One thing we’ve picked up: Republicans just finished a vote that accelerates the election of a caucus candidate for speaker to next Thursday, Dec. 17.

(This post originally said the election had been moved to Tuesday, Dec. 15. And that was the plan going into the meeting.)

House Speaker pro tem Mark Burkhalter, who we did not see present in the assembly, had originally set a date of Dec. 21.

Candidates for speaker at this point include Larry O’Neal, David Ralston, and Bill Hembree.

The new date will make …

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The latest memo on reforms for House Republicans

A gathering of the House Republican caucus, its first since the resignation of Glenn Richardson, begins in about an hour.

Many Republican members have made written attempts to sketch out an an agenda for what’s likely to be a fairly unstructured venting session. But this from state Rep. Fran Millar of Dunwoody is by far the most detailed and wide-ranging:

DATE: December 11, 2009

TO: Fellow Caucus Members

FROM: Fran Millar

RE: The Future

During this difficult time, I have urged patience and stated that what is important is that we do this right. I had hoped Mark was going to announce in his letter that we would have an election prior to the session. I certainly did not expect his email stating he was pursuing other career opportunities and would not be running for Speaker. Hopefully, he will provide further clarity on Friday.

Even in adversity, I believe everything happens for a reason. I agree with Jerry Keen that we have much to be proud of. We have been good fiscal …

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A word on the speaker’s race — from Denmark

The morning post brought this word from Randy Evans, the longtime Republican counselor and confidante to Newt Gingrich, who is in Copenhagen to attend the climate change meetings:

Today, I have enthusiastically endorsed Representative Bill Hembree for Speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives. He has the skills to lead without all the baggage for Democrats to use in the 2010 election year in their bid to regain control of the Georgia Legislature. I will write more about this next week.

Until then, Merry Christmas from Denmark. Randy

For instant updates, follow me on Twitter.

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David Ralston joins the race for House speaker

Large and late developments in this sudden race for House Speaker, on the eve of a Friday gathering of the Republican caucus:

State Rep. David Ralston of Blue Ridge, the attorney who unsuccessfully challenged Glenn Richardson for the leadership position last year, pulled the trigger on his candidacy just a few minutes ago in a note to House Republicans.

Wrote north Georgia lawmaker:

“Georgians expect us to do better and be about their business – not that of the lobbyists or special interests. They expect us to do the right thing and do it in an open and honest manner.

“Challenging issues await us in mere days: the budget, transportation, water and others. These issues will require strong and steady leadership. But we must also have leadership with the courage to stand up to other politicians and the special interests to bring true reform to the Georgia House and to lead the way – not simply follow – in enacting meaningful improvements in our ethics laws.”

– If you didn’t catch …

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A note from Larry O’Neal: ‘No one will be above the law, including myself’

State Rep. Larry O’Neal, the Republican from Houston County and probably the leading candidate for House speaker, just sent the note below.

If elected, “there will be no witch hunts,” he writes. On the other hand, O’Neal hints at a significant shake-up in the House.

Here’s what he wrote:

As you may know, I am recovering from a serious case of the flu that turned into pneumonia, and answered some questions at Travis Fain’s request while in the hospital that became a story now posted on your blog. I am on the mend now, but I wanted to offer some additional comments that might give a fuller picture of my campaign for speaker.

We must elect a calm, competent, experienced speaker, since we will immediately leave this speaker’s election and face a massive budget deficit that matters much more to Georgia taxpayers than any caucus election. I believe that I represent that kind of leadership.

Once we turn to that issue after the speaker’s election, I want to be clear how I will …

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Proposed rules for the next speaker: ‘Don’t sleep around, don’t embarrass us’

To get his vote, state Rep. Jim Cole (R-Forsyth) says the next House speaker will have to sign a code of behavior that he’s drafted. Cole, who is not running for a leadership plan, refers to his proposed code as a “seven-point action plan.”

His first requirement: Don’t sleep around on your spouse.

His second requirement: Don’t embarrass the people you lead.

Cole’s code also calls for an end to “physical” gifts from lobbyists and would require the suspension of House members from leadership duties upon arrest. Presumably that would include such things as DUI violations.

In addition, Cole wants an end to the “hawk” system that currently allows the House Republican leadership to pack committees in order pass or block legislation. Other members of the GOP rank-and-file have also demanded an end to the system.

Here is Cole’s proposal, with a few minor editing touches:

1. Upholding a higher standard: A leadership code of ethics

We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of …

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Your morning jolt: Larry O’Neal says House speaker’s affair was ‘common knowledge’

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, …

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The return of the Carter name to Georgia politics

On Wednesday night, the grandson of Jimmy Carter hosted a gathering in Decatur to launch his campaign for a state Senate seat that is not quite available yet.

Jason Carter, 34, is the first of the former president’s grandchildren to seek public office. “I think if I didn’t give politics a chance, then I would be leaving some opportunities on the table to make a difference,” the young attorney said. “That may sound canned, but it’s not.”

jasoncarter

Jason Carter

The former president, who left his state Senate seat in 1966 to make a first run for governor, has endorsed his grandson’s venture. “He said, ‘You’re going to have to work harder than anybody else, and always tell the truth. And that’s all the advice you’ll ever need,’ ” Jason Carter reported.

But a legacy is one part wings and one part baggage.

Jason Carter aims to replace David Adelman, who has been nominated by the Obama administration as ambassador to Singapore — but who has yet to be confirmed by the Senate.

Adelman is …

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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

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House panel approves measure to change college football playoffs; Georgia’s John Barrow casts a lone ‘nay’

This from the Associated Press:

A House subcommittee approved legislation Wednesday aimed at forcing college football to switch to a playoff system to determine its national champion, over the objections of some lawmakers who said Congress has meatier targets to tackle.

A House subcommittee approved legislation Wednesday aimed at forcing college football to switch to a playoff system to determine its national champion, over the objections of some lawmakers who said Congress has meatier targets to tackle.

The bill, which faces steep odds, would ban the promotion of a postseason NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision game as a national championship unless it results from a playoff. The measure passed by voice vote in a House Energy and Commerce Committee subcommittee, with one audible “no,” from Rep. John Barrow, D-Ga.

“With all due respect, I really think we have more important things to spend our time on,” Barrow said before the vote, although he stressed he didn’t like the …

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