Archive for December, 2009

Your morning jolt: Karen Handel throws cold water on Atlanta mayoral challenge

The Office of Inspector General under Secretary of State Karen Handel last night threw some cold water on charges pushed by Mary Norwood supporters, who claim that about 1,300 voters cast illegal ballots in the Dec. 1 runoff for mayor of Atlanta:

Based on preliminary findings, we believe that the original list provided by Citizens for Fair Atlanta Elections is not a list of voters who actually cast a ballot in the Atlanta mayoral election. Rather, it appears to have been created or pooled from a larger list of registered voters.

From this list, approximately 40 voters do not appear to have valid residence addresses. The Inspector General’s Office will continue its investigation to determine the eligibility status of these voters. We are forwarding these preliminary investigative findings to the Fulton County Board of Elections and Registration as it conducts its own investigation into this matter.”

Kasim Reed has been declared mayor-elect, by a margin of 715 votes. A recount …

Continue reading Your morning jolt: Karen Handel throws cold water on Atlanta mayoral challenge »

Rich Golick to run for House speaker pro tem

A couple last-minute notes on House leadership races to come:

– State Rep. Rich Golick (R-Smyrna) will tell his Republican colleagues tomorrow that he’s running for speaker pro tem, the No. 2 leadership spot in the House. He’s the former floor leader for Gov. Sonny Perdue.

– Someone has established a “Mike Coan for Georgia Speaker of the House” page on Facebook. Not sure whether this has been sanctioned by the Lawrenceville lawmaker.

For instant updates, follow me on Twitter.

Continue reading Rich Golick to run for House speaker pro tem »

A not-so-public meeting of the House GOP caucus

When last heard from, Speaker pro tem Mark Burkhalter on Monday told members of the House Republican caucus that he would call a 10 a.m. Friday meeting to discuss the preliminaries of an election to replace Speaker Glenn Richardson.

The locale was yet-to-be determined, but would be somewhere in Atlanta. Which might sound strange — given that a perfectly usable state Capitol, in high holiday dressage, sits nearly empty.

But if you’re trying to avoid a media scrum, in part because you have not addressed the basic facts behind a troubling succession crisis, then a public venue is not where you want to host a hundred or so nervous – and perhaps slightly resentful – Republican lawmakers.

So a memo went out this afternoon, under the name of caucus chairman Donna Sheldon of Dacula, asking GOP lawmakers to set their GPS units for the Georgia Tech Research Institute Conference Center at 250 14th St.

A light breakfast, coffee and soft drinks will be served.

For instant updates,

Continue reading A not-so-public meeting of the House GOP caucus »

Tommy Smith becomes first candidate for House speaker

State Rep. Tommy Smith (R-Nicholls), a former Democrat and 30-year member of the House, just walked into our offices and announced himself as the first candidate to replace Speaker Glenn Richardson.

Smith promised to eliminate the “hawk” system that allowed the speaker to pack committees with ex officio members in order to move legislation he backed through the system. “I think that was really against representative government,” Smith said.

The south Georgia lawmaker, a blueberry farmer, also said he would end the system introduced by Richardson that prohibited many bills from being amended on the House floor, after receiving the approval of the Rules Committee. The policy heightened the influence of House Rules Chairman Earl Ehrhart (R-Powder Springs) and frustrated Democrats – and many rank-and-file Republicans worried about the concentration of power.

Smith also said he was interested in a proposal by Secretary of State Karen Handel to make the Legislature subject to the …

Continue reading Tommy Smith becomes first candidate for House speaker »

House leadership races begin: ‘The partying mentality is over’

State Rep. Clay Cox of Lilburn has become the first Republican to enter the House race for speaker pro tem, the No. 2 position in the chamber.

Says Cox:

I do so because I believe that the new brand of leadership in our caucus, and for our cause, should look and act differently. If we truly want to move our agenda of conservative constitutionalism forward, we must do so in a way that says to our citizens that the partying-mentality is over. We must get down to serious business. The challenges we face demand nothing less.

Cox also cites his past leadership positions in the House — chief deputy whip and a floating ex officio member of all committees — and closes with this thought:

You also know that I go home at night to my wife and children- and that will not change.

Some may remember Cox as the fellow who introduced legislation back in 2005 to protect those who want to say “Merry Christmas” rather than something more generic.

He also had a bill last session, H.B. 622, that …

Continue reading House leadership races begin: ‘The partying mentality is over’ »

Your morning jolt: Our very own Denny Hastert situation

Exactly why Mark Burkhalter decided against pursuing the House speakership relinquished by Glenn Richardson is a topic that has yet to be fully explored.

“As has been reported, I have personally been pursuing other career opportunities for several months. Out of respect and fairness for our Caucus and the House of Representatives, I want to be transparent about my career interests and let a process commence for the election of a new speaker,” the Speaker pro tem said in an e-mail dispatched to House GOP caucus members last night.

This is apparently a reference to Burkhalter’s pursuit of the high-paying executive directorship of the Georgia World Congress Center. The problem is that Burkhalter let it be known last week that he had removed his name from consideration for the GWCC post.

It’s a contradiction that requires resolution.

Otherwise, one must assume that something else is afoot, and that the state Republican party may be facing its most damaging crisis since the GOP …

Continue reading Your morning jolt: Our very own Denny Hastert situation »

Mark Burkhalter says he won’t pursue House speaker post

We now have a contest to replace House Speaker Glenn Richardson.

Four days ago, Speaker pro tem Mark Burkhalter of Johns Creek was the presumed successor to Richardson, who resigned amid depression and scandal.

But at 6 p.m., with only the vaguest of explanations, Burkhalter sent an e-mail out to members of the House Republican Caucus, informing them that he will not pursue the speakership, and will call for an election when the General Assembly convenes in January.

A 10 a.m. Friday meeting of the GOP caucus will be held somewhere in Atlanta to discuss the details. David Ralston of Blue Ridge, Barry Loudermilk of Cassville, and Larry O’Neal of Warner Robins all have been mentioned as candidates.

Another name heretofore unmentioned: Rich Golick of Smyrna said he’s considering a run for a House leadership post — but needs to do more talking to colleagues before he decides which one. Golick is Gov. Sonny Perdue’s former floor leader, and so has stood between Perdue and Richardson …

Continue reading Mark Burkhalter says he won’t pursue House speaker post »

A Handel focus on ethics and the Legislature

Secretary of State Karen Handel on Monday continued to push sleaze in the state Capitol — specifically the Legislature — as a defining issue in next year’s Republican primary for governor.

Last week, Handel was the only Republican candidate for governor to call for the resignation of House Speaker Glenn Richardson. Within the last few minutes, her campaign issued a press release that included the following:

“We are fortunate to have many dedicated members of the Legislature. This is an opportunity for all of us to take significant measures to end the culture of insider dealings, conflicts of interest and behavior that no one should be proud of but has been with us for decades. Republicans and Democrats are equally responsible and it’s time that it is finally addressed, Handel said today.

Here’s her proposed to-do list:

1. Ban gifts of more that $25 to elected officials.

This would eliminate the junkets, steak dinners and free cocktail hours lobbyists use to peddle …

Continue reading A Handel focus on ethics and the Legislature »

Shirley Franklin, Andrew Young host a Christmas fund-raiser for Roy Barnes

With the race for mayor of Atlanta over, the players are moving to the next one. Below is the invite for a Dec. 14 fund-raiser for former Gov. Roy Barnes, hosted by Mayor Shirley Franklin and former mayor Andrew Young.

The name of mayor-elect Kasim Reed is missing.

But you’ll notice a good number other regulars on the host list, plus some prominent members of the African-American clergy, including Bishop Eddie Long and the Rev. Jasper Williams:

barnesinvite

For instant updates, follow me on Twitter.

Continue reading Shirley Franklin, Andrew Young host a Christmas fund-raiser for Roy Barnes »

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 …

Continue reading A meeting of House GOP caucus in the works? »