House Majority Leader Jerry Keen bows out

Majority Leader Jerry Keen (R-St. Simons Island) sent a letter to House GOP caucus members, informing them that he is retiring from the Legislature after 10 years.

Keen was the only one of three top House leaders who survived the Glenn Richardson blow-up this winter. Here’s what he wrote:

April 15, 2010

Dear Fellow Caucus Members,

When I was first elected in November of 2000, I joined only 74 fellow Republicans in the Georgia House of Representatives. Today, we are in the majority with a caucus of 105 members. Taking control of this House for the first time in over 130 years was just the beginning.

Since then, we have cracked down on illegal immigration, passed sweeping tort reform, brought transparency to the budget process, protected life by adopting the Woman’s Right to Know bill, lowered taxes for all Georgians, opened our meetings to anyone with an Internet connection, protected our children from sex offenders, and, most importantly, balanced our state’s budget in economic times none of us ever anticipated.

The last 10 years have been quite a journey. During that time I have had the privilege of serving as your minority whip and then as majority leader. Leading our caucus has been and will remain my highest honor. Thank you for allowing me to do so.

Today I spoke to my local rotary so my constituents would know first, and I now want each of you to know that this will be my last term in the House of Representatives. 10 years is a long time of service, and I firmly believe this is the appropriate time for me to move on. While I certainly am sad to see this chapter in my life close, I look forward to starting a new one.

I am proud of everything we have accomplished and will continue to work toward maintaining Republican control in Georgia and preserving the ideals for which we have each sacrificed so much.
Thank you to each of you for your hard work, your support, and especially your friendship.

House Speaker David Ralston adds this:

“I am saddened personally by Jerry Keen’s decision to retire from the House. He is my friend and I will miss his wise counsel. The House of Representatives, the House Republican Caucus and the Republican Party will greatly miss his leadership. His departure will leave a void which will be difficult to fill. I wish him and his wife, Alice, all the best in the future.”

Who replaces him? One name we’ve heard belongs to Earl Ehrhart of Powder Springs, the former House rules chairman.

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53 comments Add your comment


April 15th, 2010
4:06 pm

An apology to the citizens of GA would have been more appropriate.


April 15th, 2010
4:08 pm

Who cares? He would have been voted out anyway!

Sick of Republicans

April 15th, 2010
4:09 pm

Will someone tell me what planet this moron is living on? The accomplishments he claims for him and his party just flat out don’t exist. They have done more to damage this State and especially the education in this State than anyone before them could even think of. What flavor of kool aid is he drinking? The Republican party has done more to damage this State and Country than anyone else. That’s why I will never ever again vote Republican.

[...] Jim Galloway brings us the news of his letter to the House: “The last 10 years have been quite a journey. During that time I have had the privilege of serving as your minority whip and then as majority leader. Leading our caucus has been and will remain my highest honor. Thank you for allowing me to do so. [...]

[...] Jim Galloway brings us the news of his letter to the House: “The last 10 years have been quite a journey. During that time I have had the privilege of serving as your minority whip and then as majority leader. Leading our caucus has been and will remain my highest honor. Thank you for allowing me to do so. [...]

Annie Ethel

April 15th, 2010
4:28 pm

… and now a comment by someone who has worked at the capitol, has taken part in the process, has a real job outside of politics…
Leadership at the Dome is about getting things done, keeping the state solvent, keeping the fight out of the courts, and doing all of it on a part time basis. Anyone who can do that deserves some respect.
I’ve been displeased by some of his decisions, but grown-ups don’t pout and point fingers. We find solutions, work on a problem, and move forward. Keen has had to do that and a new leader will do well to take note and make an effort to learn from both his successes and mistakes.
Besides that, the overriding policy goals have been to only minimally regulate, but to take on the problems the state can handle because otherwise, the Federal is only too happy to step in. There has also been the effort to keep issues local – local school boards, local law enforcement being supported in REPAT and other immigration programs.


April 15th, 2010
4:34 pm

Mixed feelings.

[...] Majority Leader Jerry Keen says this legislative session will be his last under the Gold Dome. Thank [...]

Yosemite Sam

April 15th, 2010
4:43 pm

Maybe Keen will tell us, before he goes, who’s going to be paying taxes in this state? The men and women who already have two jobs? Some Christian he is.


April 15th, 2010
4:43 pm

Doesn’t matter if you’re Republican, Democrat, Independent, Libertarian, Whig, etc., most of the the crap we elect have no business running a business…they’re only in it for the money. Their money! How many have actually had to make a payroll? Hired or fired someone? When we realize that our forefathers had the right idea…serve for one term, do what’s right for the people, and go back home, then and only then will we see democracy in action. BTW, who said being an elected official was a lifetime job? And, what part of “stop spending” do they not understand? Just my opinion.


April 15th, 2010
5:01 pm


Your comment makes no sense. Are you implying Keen is responsible for our current economic condition? Are you serious?


April 15th, 2010
5:04 pm



April 15th, 2010
5:06 pm

Amen Dan, wake up and elect conservatives! Guess no democrats need apply. Just a little political humor.

Anyone but Oxendine

April 15th, 2010
5:18 pm

There is no comprehending the foolishness under the Gold Dome.


April 15th, 2010
5:20 pm

RS- Our current group of Republicans are conservatives? They are in it for the money, their money. Just a little political humor.


April 15th, 2010
5:25 pm

What a bunch of whiners! Jerry Keen lead. Period. Some of you may not have liked the results but leadership is not about pleasing all the people all the time. Its about getting things done and Jerry did. Period.

Paddy O

April 15th, 2010
5:31 pm

Annie is in Wonderland. Republicans have passed many, many onerous bills which usurp and interfere with local government while simultaneously prohibiting local government from using common tools to generate local revenue for local projects – such as recreation centers, sewer treatment plants, new roads, repaving roads, widening existing roads, putting in bike lanes and adding sidewalks. I am deeply disappointed in Republicans primarily due to their inability to accomplish meaningful projects. How many new reservoirs have been built? Have we created new streams of revenue for transportation projects on any level? Local? Regional? State? They have also consumately decimated local education the last 8 years, and are now working on higher education and the arts. Plus, they discriminate based on age, on who pays income tax regardless of wealth or the ability to pay.


April 15th, 2010
5:32 pm


An example please. One that can or has been proven. It’s easy to talk the talk Phil, now walk the walk.

Paddy O

April 15th, 2010
5:33 pm

Diehard – it appears you have already croaked and are in limbo. He effectively rearranged the deck chairs, while spitting upon city/local government. This is NOT Reagan philosophy.

Paddy O

April 15th, 2010
5:34 pm

There was a tax relief bill which saved Sonny Perdue quite a bit of money on a land deal.

Paddy O

April 15th, 2010
5:38 pm

Somehow, Sonny Perdue, with his teflon triple A bond rating, has issued billions of dollars in debt, but no republican seems to care – this is deficit spending. The state is now demanding that GEFA securitize its assets and provide the revenue from this sale to the state, destroying 25 years of built up asset reutilization capacity, which will further damage local governments when they attempt to construct a large project (water/sewer plant/reservoir). Republican are terrific short term guys, but terrible at improving the state. Go to a State web page and see if you receive any useful information as a common citizen, it is mostly aimed at economic developers, which there are not many of those around right now.


April 15th, 2010
5:39 pm

Paddy, I’ll bite. When was the Gov convicted? By what court? Charges pending? It’s not to late Paddy for you to see the DA with your evidence.


April 15th, 2010
5:40 pm


When the Dems were in power, did they issue bonds? Thought so.

Alabama Communist

April 15th, 2010
5:43 pm

If I was the Republican dude who help this State go into Bankrupty, I would quit like Sara Palin and head to Costa Rica as secret missionary for the Ghost of Jerry Falwell……..


April 15th, 2010
5:45 pm

Well I guess Phil and Paddy don’t walk the walk. Going home, will check for your detailed answers tomorrow.


April 15th, 2010
5:48 pm

Tort reform that was unconstitutional


April 15th, 2010
5:52 pm

Those of you who think that democrats are going to win many elections in GA this year are in for a rude awaking. Only those district that are solidly democrats will be elected. I’m also willing to bet that the Commission of the Department of Labor and the Attorney General will be Republicans after November. You all can thank Barry, Nancy, and Harry when it happens.


April 15th, 2010
5:55 pm

Not that I speak for Phil, but you want examples…here ya go. First, lets look at the reimbursements requested by our reps. I think $2500/month is excessive rent for Rules Committee Chairman Don Balfour (R-Snellville). Then, lets talk Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers (R-Woodstock), who tried to strip language from the telecom bill that would provide consumer protection…just so happens he got a big ol wad of cash from AT&T who just so happens had to pay out about $140,000 last year to consumers who the PSC found were owed that money…there are more, but I think that proves the point

S Fan

April 15th, 2010
6:02 pm

Glad he is gone!! He tried to pass laws that never held up in court! Anything for a vote! Good riddance Keen!

Left in the South

April 15th, 2010
6:07 pm

Roy Barnes…………Coming Back!……….After 8 years of Stagnation it’s time to get Georgia back on track.


April 15th, 2010
6:16 pm

How could this guy make the claim that the state is better off than it was in 2000? I guess Tort reform was good for some citizens somewhere. Those citizens who live in…? It seems that the list of accomplishments he trumps out are as special interest- based as any his party claims on the other side.


April 15th, 2010
6:31 pm

Edward Lindsey has done a solid job as Majority Whip. He ought to move up to Majority Leader.


April 15th, 2010
6:53 pm

During the ten years of Keen’s tenure the Republican leadership has almost succeeded in destroying Georgia’s government and it’s desirability as a place to live. They have gutted all the things that yield a better quality of life for Georgians: the arts, the state parks, the Naural Resources and Environmental Protection depts, etc.The housing bubble has burst, the hoards of low-paid workers living in ticky-tacky subdivisions thrown up overnight have left or are on unemployment, Georgia’s economy is on the skids, and there is no more cream for these politicians to skim from the taxpayers, so many who entered government just to line their pockets are heading for the exit.
Good riddance to them and I pray that Georgia will some day have true public servants in leadership positions, instead of these evil-tempered, narrow-minded, self-serving bumpkins.

Concerned Voter!

April 15th, 2010
6:58 pm

Wow, Jerry. And what did you idiots do for transportation? NOTHING. Such small minded idiots who get elected think only of their small, small towns and do not care for the STATE, or the largest money engine in it, ATLANTA. So sad to see how elected officials act, behave and attempt to appear that they are accomplishing great things. Sorry, Jerry…I’m unimpressed.

The Snark

April 15th, 2010
7:03 pm

Is this the same Jerry Keen who created the poorly worded sex offender law, that was opposed by Georgia sheriffs as unworkable, that has resulted in God knows how many lawsuits and defeats in court? The same Jerry Keen who couldn’t be bothered to show up at the meeting of the committee that tried to fix the damn thing so that it would be constitutional?

Good riddance.

Reality Train

April 15th, 2010
7:44 pm

One thing about “The Reverend” Keen .. he enjoys him a meal or two at lobbyists’ expense:

a large number of meals but none that approach this one from 2009:

Jerry Keen
House Majority Leader & Spouse 10/28/2009

he’s a true man of the people

Good riddance .. hope when the door slams behind him it doesn’t smack Preston Smith in the face


April 15th, 2010
8:10 pm

Where’s my Obama money?? My 8 babies by their 8 different daddies are hungry and I don’t have time to work… Obama money!!! Spread the weatlh.. Welfare.

Bent on Destruction

April 15th, 2010
8:28 pm

With the goal of tearing down state government and destroying Atlanta, Keen has greatly succeeded. The economic engine of the state, Atlanta, has been crippled and is dying. State government which serves Georgians has been gutted so that people driving Lexuses and Benzes can have less responsibility for public finance of esssential services.
As for the lies about his accomplishments, the money he’s made will salve his soul until it time to face judgement … which doesn’t belong to bloggers.
Real leaders have lots of example of good governance, not the least of which can be found here: “Provide for the common defense; Promote the general welfare; security the blessings of liberty, for ourselves and our prosperity … ”
And for you regular AJC ranters, please answer this: How can three-eighths of the state’s population hold the rest of us hostage?

Bent on Destruction

April 15th, 2010
8:30 pm

Oooopppppssss: I meant “Posterity” … my bad … LOL


April 15th, 2010
9:54 pm


Kevin Gough

April 15th, 2010
10:56 pm

Jerry Keen is an honorable man who served his constituents, and all Georgia, with distinction. He deserves better than the nasty parting shots of anonymous losers who think the world should revolve around Atlanta’s liberal elites. He did more for Coastal Georgia in a few short years than the Democrats did in over a century.

Alfred Neuman - quite a MAD state

April 16th, 2010
1:51 am

Glad to hear to several feel that representative Keen did a good job for Coastal Georgia as a part time representative with a full time job back home (not a bad way to work the state capital for 40 days here and countless days before each session.) No doubt hard work.

I am disappointed though at the bad legislation and waste of our tax dollars to defend it in regards to sex offendors. A whole like riding a stationary bicycle and thinking you are going somewhere. But then so seem Republicans who tend to be dominated by social conservativeness – abortion and sex offendors. The fiscal side Republicans used to be known for has evaporated into the wind – definitely not your father’s republican party.

In Georgia, fiscal conservativeness means balanced budget and no new taxes only. Issues that threaten the state’s longterm economic vitality don’t seem to warrent seriousness. Such a legacy of missed opportunities is not conservative nor prudent.

Transportation – (Kevin – yep I’m from Atlanta) and would like to see the ports of coastal Georgia improved to move freight efficiently out of the ports to provide a better quality of life in Savannah along with improved transportation connections between Atlanta and the rest of the state.

Industry – KIA is big, a fish pond is not, Alabama kicked our butts with at least 4 other automobile manufacturing plants and a variety of new plants in Mobile

Global – no leadership within the party to bring the state together, meanwhile we are in a global economy where such interdependency is of suppreme importance yet we continue to snipe at each other within the state – unwilling to recognize the important truth that we – Savannah, Columbus, Macon, Augusta, Atlanta are Georgia with strong economic connections.

Tomorrow is another day and this year is an election year – an opportunity to get Georgia moving again.

Mr. Grumpy

April 16th, 2010
7:29 am

Jerry Keen has a habit of re-writing history and not recognizing his real legacy. His real legacy — in addition to sponsoring legislation that never went anywhere — is that he sat by, this good Christian and Family Values man, while Glenn Richardson acted like a college sophmore high on testosterone. He didn’t know, huh? EVERBODY knew! He should have done the honorable thing and resigned along with Richardson. But, no, instead, we get treated to hios version of history, a history every decent Republican should be ashamed of.

Stand Watie

April 16th, 2010
7:31 am

To “Sick of Republicans” —- I’m not crazy about Republicans, but there isn’t an anti-God, anti-American, baby-killing, socialst/marxist/facist/communist/democrat wasting God’s air for whom I would vote.


April 16th, 2010
8:30 am


Your examples, have either been arrested? Have either had a criminal investagation startes, much less completed? Have either been convicted? Asw a liberal Scott I’m sure you believe in innocent until proven guilty. BTW, if you have evidence of criminal wrong doing, why haven’t you turned it over to the police?

Why? Please tell us.


April 16th, 2010
8:56 am

Kevin Gough..what did Jerry do for coastal Georgia? Specifics, please.

As for honorable..your definition of that word seems to vary greatly from the generally accepted one. Keen as all kinds of questionable ethics skeletons.

News Update – April 16, 2010

April 16th, 2010
10:11 am

[...] Georgia GOP Senate Majority Leader Jerry Keen is retiring from the legislature after ten years. [...]


April 16th, 2010
10:37 am

@Retired Soldier
You love red herrings dont you. The question was not of illegality, but of their motivation which I handily proved you to be WRONG. They have to file their campaign/lobbyist cash. Do a google search, its all online. I am a liberal on some things and DAMN PROUND OF IT!!! Conservatives have done such a bang up job. If having funding for transportation is liberal, if having quality education is liberal, if having legislators that care about the state more than lining their pockets is liberal, if not wanting Georgia to be the ONLY state that has no arts funding agency is liberal… HELL YEAH IM A LIBERAL. If you cant admit when you are wrong, you prove my point, and you were called out (as you have been so many times) as just plain wrong


April 16th, 2010
11:29 am

Called out? Excuse for a minute while I stop craping in my pants you mean person you. To do all these lovely things you want to do, were is the money coming from? How much more are you willing to pay to do all the things you just listed.

I live in a small rural county and our school system is doing fine, thank you very much. Our road system while occasionally a bit busy is fine also. I live 7 miles from my office and it takes me 12 minutes to get there, damn pesky redlight.

So we are doing fine here in rural Georgia. I have no problem with Fulton, Clayton, etc raising all the taxes they want to improve their transportation and schools.

Questions? It might be tomorrow before I answer, someone has to work to pays taxes.


April 16th, 2010
11:45 am

If Cobb does not get any leadership positions in the GOP, like Earl, why should we continue to blindly vote for the Republican Party?