Archive for December, 2009

The Capitol as frat house, and the 2010 race for governor

When House Speaker Glenn Richardson resigned last week, he left more than a state Capitol in turmoil.

The sudden departure of the first Republican leader of the Georgia House, under less-than-savory circumstances, threatens to shake the 2010 race for governor to its core.

That Democratic candidates have come down with a virulent case of righteousness should surprise no one. House Minority Leader DuBose Porter of Dublin has applied for a patent on the phrase “culture of corruption.”

The real debate has erupted on the other side of the aisle. It started even before Richardson walked out the door ‚ì fueled by worry among many Republicans that they will be forced to defend a Legislature that, aside from being ineffective, has descended into a tawdry caricature of sex and influence-peddling.

Merely in terms of strategy, Richardson’s resignation poses a problem for U.S. Rep. Nathan Deal of Gainesville, the speaker’s choice for governor. The House Republican caucus, normally a deep …

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A first call for an elected speaker

State Rep. Michael Harden (R-Toccoa) has penned what we think is the first op-ed piece generated by a member of the GOP caucus, calling for an election to anoint a successor to House Speaker Glenn Richardson.

We know of others in the works. Here’s what Harden wrote:

By now, every Georgian knows that Speaker Glenn Richardson has resigned due to a truckload of personal problems. While I am glad he resigned, I also sincerely hope that he obtains the help he needs and finds peace in the years to come.

Now that this chapter is almost closed, it is time for the Georgia House of Representatives to move on and get back to the business of this state. Unemployment has surged across the state, especially in rural areas, impacting countless Georgia families. State revenues continue to decline damaging everything from public safety to public education. It is long past time we got back to doing what the people elected us to do.

However, we cannot truly move on and begin a fresh start …

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Mary Norwood drums up cash for a recount

Atlanta mayoral candidate Mary Norwood, now officially the second-place finisher in Tuesday’s vote, apparently is hurting for money to finance a recount. This e-mail arrived last night:

Where we stand: This race is not over. Out of over 84,000 votes cast, there are just over 700 votes separating me and Kasim Reed. Unfortunately, because our opponent raised almost twice as much as we did, in order to meet all of our Get Out The Vote expenses we had to spend every dollar we raised during the runoff. Since we are within 1% of each other, there will be an automatic recount.

While we fight through the recount we need to keep the campaign operational and meet the expenses that come with a recount. This will be a costly process. We are still operational with very few paid staff and dozens of volunteers who are ready to fight for
what’s right and fight until the last legitimate vote is counted.

If we can raise another $30,000 we will be able to deploy a 100%, full force effort to make …

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A word from a past candidate for House speaker

The question before the state Capitol is whether Speaker pro tem Mark Burkhalter, who four weeks from today is scheduled to drop the “pro tem” from that title, will face a challenge from within the House Republican caucus.

Burkhalter has worked throughout most of today to create an atmosphere of fait accompli.

But my AJC colleague Aaron Gould Sheinin just finished a conversation with state Rep. David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge) who last year engineered an unsuccessful challenge to House Speaker Glenn Richardson.

We’ll let you parse what Ralston said:

“There’s a lot of discussions going on. I haven’t made calls [about running for speaker]. I’ve received calls. But there are a lot of discussions going on. I think that’s to be expected. We’ll kind of see how things play out here over the days or weeks.

“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 …

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Body language and political marriages

Sometimes body language is worth a thousand words when it comes to a marriage on political display.

Below is an AP photo, taken Thursday, of South Carolina first lady Jenny Sanford and her husband Gov. Mark Sanford, at a Christmas-themed open house at the governor’s mansion:

jsanford

And surely this shot by AJC photographer Ben Gray will go down in Georgia’s political annals. It was snapped as House Speaker Glenn Richardson took his oath of office on Jan. 8, 2007 – days after Democrats accused him of an “inappropriate relationship” with an AGL lobbyist.

srichardson

The speaker said the charge had no basis. Susan Richardson, shown holding a Bible, now says she knew it was so.

For instant updates, follow me on Twitter.

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Sarah Palin says she’s no birther

Last night, former GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin posted the following on her Facebook page, under the headline “Stupid Conspiracies:”

Voters have every right to ask candidates for information if they so choose. I’ve pointed out that it was seemingly fair game during the 2008 election for many on the left to badger my doctor and lawyer for proof that Trig is in fact my child.

Conspiracy-minded reporters and voters had a right to ask… which they have repeatedly.

But at no point – not during the campaign, and not during recent interviews – have I asked the president to produce his birth certificate or suggested that he was not born in the United States.

Apparently this is something of a walk-back for Palin. On Thursday, in an interview with conservative radio host Rusty Humphries, she said something slightly different. This posted on Salon.com:

PALIN: Um, I think the public, rightfully, is still making it an issue. I don’t have a problem with that. I don’t know if I …

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Mark Burkhalter yanks name from consideration for World Congress job

Some morning tidbits in the aftermath of House Speaker Glenn Richardson’s resignation:

– We’re told that Speaker pro tem Mark Burkhalter of Johns Creek, who will succeed Richardson on Jan. 1, withdrew his name Thursday as a finalist in the search for a new executive director of the Georgia World Congress Center. The post carried a salary of several hundred thousand dollars a year.

Consider the move a sign that he intends to make the speakership a permanent calling.

– Related to that, in that 4 p.m. conference call, we’re told that House Majority Leader Jerry Keen expressed what might be called tentative support for Burkhalter as the new leader of the House. For the moment, we do not have a race for speaker.

– We’re hearing from lawmakers that Richardson, in that conference call, went into uncomfortable detail about his marriage with Susan Richardson, who on Monday blew the whistle on his affair with an AGL lobbyist. Far too much information for some of the listeners.

For …

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A few details from Glenn Richardson’s phone call

Denis O’Hayer of WABE (90.1FM) had House Ethics Chairman Joe Wilkinson (R-Sandy Springs) on this afternoon, and pried a few details about Speaker Glenn Richardson’s conference call with GOP caucus members.

Said Wilkinson:

“As expected, it was emotional. I grateful to Glenn for standing up and actually sharing with — his family, he called us – the caucus a number of details. We learned a great deal of what he’s been going through. It was very courageous.”

O’Hayer asked if Richardson addressed allegations of threatening to bring state agencies down on his wife in a series of e-mails. Said Wilkinson:

“There is a lot more to that story than was aired in her interview. He was certainly a dad who was quite concerned because he couldn’t find his children and she was not responding. But I really don’t want to discuss that for obvious reasons…

“What he explained was that he hoped any parent who was in a similar situation, who could not find his children, and his ex-wife — who shared …

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Glenn Richardson’s good-bye

Below is House Speaker Glenn Richardson’s statement of resignation. It is peculiarly absent of any acceptance of any responsibility. Nor is it the most graceful set of exit lines, but grace was never his strong point – passion was, and it ultimately did him in.

The key to the statement is Richardson’s Jan. 1 resignation date. One would have to interpret this as postponement any challenge to Mark Burkhalter, who now becomes the new speaker.

House rules give the speaker 120 days – four months – to respond to any petition from the GOP caucus for a new election. That would push the issue to the end of April, when the session is likely to be over, favors have been doled out, and alliances built. (But the deadline could give the Senate some leverage in the final days.)

At the state Capitol, Majority Leader Jerry Keen, who has been mentioned as a possible candidate for speaker, left his office following the conference call and was immediately mobbed by waiting reporters. He had …

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Glenn Richardson to resign at 4 p.m.

My AJC colleague Aaron Gould Sheinin has this posted at Gold Dome Live:

Glenn Richardson will resign today at 4 p.m. during a conference call with House Republicans, sources close to the situation have said.

WSB has posted this:

Sources tell Channel 2’s Lori Geary the resignation will be effective December 31.

Richardson has been under fire after his ex-wife accused him of having an affair with a lobbyist. That claim, made this week, came just weeks after he revealed he tried to commit suicide.

WABE’s Denis O’Hayer just Twittered the same info.

For instant updates, follow me on Twitter.

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