House Democrats face a crisis: Who should lead them out of the wilderness?

House Republicans and Democrats will gather separately next week to fill vacant leadership positions.

On the GOP side, the only major post at issue is that of House majority leader, vacated by Jerry Keen, R-St. Simons Island. James Mills of Gainesville and Larry O’Neal of Bonaire are the two candidates. The GOP caucus meets Monday.

The politics are far more precarious among Democrats, who next Wednesday will be asked to elect a successor to House Minority Leader DuBose Porter of Dublin who left the chamber to make a run for governor.

Porter is a vanishing breed in the House – a white male Democrat.

The next leader of the caucus will be African-American. The announced candidates are Stacey Abrams of Atlanta, who was Lisa Borders’ campaign manager in the 2009 race for mayor of Atlanta, and Virgil Fludd of Tyrone.

The question, which must be posed delicately, is this: Which one best represents the promise of reviving the biracial coalition that is the only hope of returning Democrats to statewide prominence? The formula for success in Georgia has been, roughly, 90 percent of the African-American vote plus 35 percent of white voters.

Democrats estimate that their candidates pulled 22 percent or so of white Georgia voters on Tuesday.

Add to this the fact that Abrams, we’re told, remains much at odds with Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed – whose sway in the party organization increased on Tuesday.

Many Democrats are urging a third figure into the race for minority leader: state Rep. Calvin Smyre of Columbus, an African-American who is currently caucus chair and a former chairman of the state Democratic party. Smyre is – beyond any doubt – the most well-connected Democrat in the state.

And he has long provided much of the glue that has held white and black Democrats in the Capitol together over the years.

Moreover, neither Abrams nor Fludd has been through a redistricting session – which next year could be very ugly indeed.

But here’s the thing: Smyre has been in the House for 36 years. Retirement must come eventually. If it comes in two years – even four years – then choosing Smyre next week would simply delay resolution of a pressing question.

In that case, it might be better to give the next generation its chance. And keep Smyre in reserve and use his status as a kind of fire extinguisher for emergencies.

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54 comments Add your comment

Disgraced

November 5th, 2010
1:27 pm

Isn’t Abrams the one who ran the horrid campaign for Lisa Borders. Why is she even being considered. Democrats never learn.

Pompano

November 5th, 2010
1:35 pm

Smyre is nothing more than a puppet of Synovus Bank – doesn’t really care about any legislation unless he’s told to do so by the Bank.

George W

November 5th, 2010
1:41 pm

If the Dems want any chance in 2012, there is NO way Pelosi should get the nod.

Conservative

November 5th, 2010
1:45 pm

James Mills is the conservative leader in this race. He’s the lifelong republican, he’s the only one endorsed by the GRTL, NFIB and he’s got an “A+” from the NRA. He’s been taking the fight to Dubose and the House dems for 18 years and I sincerely hope that the House Caucus will elect him Majority Leader.

By the way, didn’t O’Neal run as a Democrat against Pam Bohannon in the late ’90’s?

Last Man Standing

November 5th, 2010
1:54 pm

So the democrats have come to a crossroads? It looks as if doesn’t matter which path is chosen: it’s all down hill. If the democrats want to find the real culprit for the problems they niow face, they need to re-visit the 1960’s. Lyndon Johnson was told by Senator Richard Russell that the far-reaching legislation proposed by LBJ in his plans for “The Great Society” would cost democrats the southern vote for the remainder of their lives and beyond. Although Senator Russell was specifically speaking of the Congressional, Senatorial and Presidential elections, the trickle-down politics also has its’ affects on state offices. Senator Russell was a very wise man.

phil

November 5th, 2010
1:57 pm

It really doesn’t matter who will be the house minority leader. The Democratic party has seen their day. Their power is over for several generations in this state.

Jeff

November 5th, 2010
2:00 pm

Also, Caucus Vice Chair is at stake on the GOP side. Matt Ramsey and Calvin Hill are the two candidates I’ve heard. This will fill the vacancy left open when Jeff Mays decided to run for PSC.

The Ghost of Lester Maddox

November 5th, 2010
2:19 pm

The Dems have only themselves to blame. On the national level, they force ultra liberal agendas down the throats of moderates, insist on certain percentages of blacks, hispanics, gays, etc, in every position of leadership…..and then they pretend to wonder why straight, white, males abandon them all over the country.

The Georgia General Assembly is only the most recent manifestation. Give it another election cycle, and there won’t be any white male Dems left at all. Sen. Hooks and Rep. Powell will switch, or retire and become lobbyists.

Ron N' Mexico

November 5th, 2010
2:36 pm

I nominate Bookman since he is a great cheerleader for them at the local rag, the ajc.

982

November 5th, 2010
2:37 pm

Oh great!! Nathan Deal, Casey Cagle and now James Mills? I guess we will truly be the State of Hall County, GA!! Surely there are qualified people from other parts of the state. Not that Mills doesn’t fit in with the other two – don’t forget the stalking incident a few years ago here in the State of Hall County. So we get a crook, a hound, and a creepy little Ralph Reed type.

AJ

November 5th, 2010
2:45 pm

The quote in the article ” The formula for success in Georgia has been, roughly, 90 percent of the African-American vote plus 35 percent of white voters” speaks volumes. If white voters voted en masse for any candidate or political party, they would immediately be branded as racists. Why is it that blacks continue to be judged by a separate standard from the rest of society? That double standard does more to create ill will toward blacks than rednecks and the Klan could ever do. If blacks want to be taken seriously- really seriously- they need to stop blindly following the democrats and start thinking as individuals.

jtaylor27

November 5th, 2010
2:59 pm

The Democratic Party in Georgia is dead. There is no way around it. This really shouldn’t a surprise to anyone who knows anything about practical politics or political science. The fact is that as the parties’ ideologies–to the extent that they have them–changed, the electorate slowly realigned. Abramowitz at Emory has been writing about this for years. The Democratic Party death began on election night in 2002, and last Tuesday was the door shutting at the funeral home after the service.

jtaylor27

November 5th, 2010
3:00 pm

@AJ: Read Michael Dawson. Google his name, and–if you REALLY care about this as much as you seem to–read his book(s).

Randy

November 5th, 2010
3:04 pm

Like a dumb ass I voted for self described blue dog Sanford Bishop. Now there is word that Nancy Pelosi will NOT go away and is going to run for House Minority Leader. I bet anything Bishop will vote for her again. These people just simply don’t get it and will never go away I guess. Half of the people is SWGA are stupid like me as well.

Shoshanna

November 5th, 2010
3:05 pm

982- “Oh great!! Nathan Deal, Casey Cagle and now James Mills? I guess we will truly be the State of Hall County, GA!!”

It is NOT where your FROM it is where you STAND on the issues! Liberal former Dem Larry O’Neal, Liberal Republican Ed Lindsey and House Speaker David Ralston are ALL attorneys. Is that really in Georgia’s best interests?

bo

November 5th, 2010
3:14 pm

this is a one party state. the majority whites are republicans and minority blacks are democrats. there is a little cross over.

Peach Girl

November 5th, 2010
3:20 pm

For all of you wickedly smart pundits, there is also a state-level form of government. When Galloway referred to the House, he meant the Georgia House of Representatives. Nancy Pelosi presides over the US House of Representatives. Please open your 8th grade civic books to page …

Now I see why Georgia politics are so scary.

grizzybear

November 5th, 2010
3:41 pm

get rid of jane kidd at the helm of the georgia democratic party and pick out someone else.after the democratic party of georgia flooded conservative mailboxes around the state with there lying rape allegations against deal,no wonder nobody likes the democraps, that had to been one of the dumbest and lowest things they could have done and it backfired, see ya!

WAW

November 5th, 2010
3:43 pm

bo knows! But I will continue to vote for the party of FDR because I am old enough to remember. My savings are protected by the FDIC, my lights come on when I flip the switch because of the REA, I can go to state and national parks because of the CCC and until Bill Clinton joined the Republican Congress and removed controls on the Robber Barons my investments were safe (so much for working with a Republican Congress).

982

November 5th, 2010
3:49 pm

Shoshanna

November 5th, 2010
3:05 pm
It is NOT where your FROM it is where you STAND on the issues! Liberal former Dem Larry O’Neal, Liberal Republican Ed Lindsey and House Speaker David Ralston are ALL attorneys. Is that really in Georgia’s best interests?

Is it that they are all attorneys or that they are “liberals” that bothers you?
And BTW, where they STAND on the issues is exactly why I don’t like Deal, Cagle or Mills. I live in Hall County and know these people and if this is the best we can do, God help us!!

Ummm, do the math

November 5th, 2010
3:52 pm

AJ, whites in Georgia ARE voting en masse for Republicans already. Maybe you’re right, but I don’t think it was nice for you to call all of them racists.
Why is it okay for 78% of whites to support one party, but not 90% of African-Americans to support another?

Ghetto Grandpa

November 5th, 2010
3:56 pm

At least Jill Chambers (R-Dunwoody) got the boot. That’s a little bit of good news for those that want metro Atlanta to develop transit. I know Deal and the GOP are not going to lift a finger to help metro Atlanta reduce gridlock – but life will be more pleasant without having to listen to Jill Chamber’s self-serving grand-standing as head of the MARTOC committee.

David S

November 5th, 2010
3:57 pm

If blacks haven’t figured out yet that they are being used by the Democratic party as guinea pigs for their social experiments and dupes in their vote buying schemes it is their own fault. The republicans are just about as horrible with the constituencies they can always “count on” like the religious right and so-called conservatives.

Neither party has any principles so it will be difficult for anyone to truly claim a leadership position in either group.

It would be nice if the democrats would follow the lead of Dennis Kucinich in opposing and voting against Obama’s imperial and illegal wars. Much of the house had a spine on this issue when they were Bush’s illegal imperial wars but expectedly turned useless when one of their own got elected.

As for the republicans, it would be nice to see them vote in Ron Paul as Speaker of the House. The massive financial hemorraging of our economy will not end until we face up to the reality that the imperial war budget must be cut. What is going on now with spending has nothing to do with Defense and to treat every line item of spending as if it were does a disservice to sanity and common sense. Defending Japan, France, Germany, England???? Come on people, this is just destroying our economy and helping THEIR’S.

Ummm, do the math

November 5th, 2010
3:57 pm

WAW must have paid attention in history class, you know, they one he or she lived. Thanks for the insight.

David S

November 5th, 2010
3:58 pm

WAW – Wow, you bought the government lies hook, line and sinker.

Keep doing this GOP

November 5th, 2010
3:58 pm

Hmmmmmmmmm, the repubs took over when those Diebold voting machines came along………….

I wonder how much they pay their hackers ?

JSS

November 5th, 2010
3:59 pm

1. Johnson was speaking to Russell about the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The legislation concerning the core of the “Great Society” (the creation of Medicare and Medicaid & the creation of the then Dept. of Health, Education, and Welfare, the War on Poverty) was a separate matter.

2. WAW is absolutely right. The majority of GA and the SE would be like the rural SW if it had not been for government intervention and subsidizing the development of public/private partnerships. AGL and GA Power spent 60 years (1880-1940) doing absolutely nothing to bring utilities to rural and poor Georgia…

Last Man Standing

November 5th, 2010
4:08 pm

Peach Girl:

“Nancy Pelosi presides over the US House of Representatives”

Not for long, though, and she probably will not be the Minority Leader either.

GA Native

November 5th, 2010
4:11 pm

There’s still a Democratic Party in GA? Sad, but our state’s political parties will likely break more and more along racial lines. Pretty pathetic and not at all good for our state or its citizens.

gm

November 5th, 2010
4:14 pm

AJ: Why do blacks have to stop following the Dem party? Once again please answer this question if Nathan Deal had been a Black Rep with the same crooked record would white conservatives have voted for him? I think we all know this one”
Why should we follow a party that does not respect the office of the President of the United States, blacks did not like Bush but did you see us going around calling him names?
Soon as you get these racist bigots like Rush L, who makes million of dollars off of poor white, feeding them the we vs them crap while he has pulled in over 50 million.
There is hope for the Black Rep party, not in Georgia, look at Deal staff, did you see any minorties? This is why everday I tell young blacks kids to stop playing football and basketball for the UGA, GT of this state, because all you are to conservatives whites in Georgia is entertainment.

Jeffrey

November 5th, 2010
4:36 pm

This is an irrelevant story. Georgia is a red state and the majority of voters in this state will vote for whomever has a (R) beside their name, regardless of qualifications. Did you notice how there seemed to be a lot of anger with Georgia voters this year, but that anger was at Washington and not at our Capitol, even though GA (the STATE of GA) ranks near the bottom in education, in employment and has virtually no real transportation vision unless it involves asphalt? None of those major issues are being driven by Washington but our own state leaders, and the voters of this state just voted R, R, R, R so we will end up with the same old, same old results.

Last Man Standing

November 5th, 2010
4:43 pm

gm:

“This is why everday I tell young blacks kids to stop playing football and basketball for the UGA, GT of this state”

If you cared about those young black kids, you would be telling them to go to the best college they can get a scholarship from to get the best education possible. Athletics are fine, but the education should be the primary focus.

Last Man Standing

November 5th, 2010
4:48 pm

Jeffrey:

I agree with much you say with the exception of the gubernatorial election. Barnes was a known and unwanted quantity. He had four years as governor and the electorate turned him out. I could see no chance of being elected this time, either.

The issues you stated are daunting and they will be addressed, if only by the legislature forcing attention to these matters.

AJ

November 5th, 2010
5:11 pm

to Ummmmm @ 3:52- The article said that conventional Democratic strategy was to win 90% of black votes and 65% of white votes. If that occurred, that would leave 65% of whites voting Republican, not the 78% that you referenced. My point is that there is a double standard of block voting by race and that blacks do themselves a disservice by generally voting for the democrat, irregardless of either candidate’s qualifications. That means that the Republican candidates don’t have much of a reason to even consider blacks as possible constituents while in office, does it? If blacks (as a group) voted for the more qualified candidate, they, along with whites, hispanics, asians, and everyone else would see better results in government. Wishful thinking, I guess.

AJ

November 5th, 2010
5:12 pm

Sorry- math error- first sentence should have read 35% of white votes, not the 65% I typed in.

AJ

November 5th, 2010
5:21 pm

@GM at 4:14- I think I get your points. Face it- both candidates this election were scumbags. I voted for Deal only because I had some arms-length business dealings with Barnes when he was in office and I GUARANTEE you that he was dirty. Trust me on that one. I agree that there are plenty of white racists, but I hope that you will be open to realizing that there are plenty of black racists, too. You need look no further than the new black panthers and the majority of churches that serve the black community. I think you will find that the vast majority of whites bear you no ill will, but are fed up with the double standard that is in effect for people who happen to be black. That double standard creates a tremendous amount of frustration to whites. It’s time we all start looking at oursleves as Americans and not whites or blacks, gays or straights, or democrats or republicans. Again, wishful thinking….

td

November 5th, 2010
5:25 pm

gm

November 5th, 2010
4:14 pm

“blacks did not like Bush but did you see us going around calling him names?”

Who are you trying to kid? Sharpton. Jackson, Waters. Mckinney, … I could go and pull over 100 quotes for you that did nothing but cut down Bush.

JSS

November 5th, 2010
6:33 pm

@ Last Man…
“If you cared about those young black kids, you would be telling them to go to the best college they can get a scholarship from to get the best education possible.”
That certainly wouldn’t be the University of Georgia… There is no degree awarded on the bachelor degree level at the State flagship institution which can not acquired at one of the satellite schools without ending up like Joshua Nesbitt did last night. Tech is a little bit of different scenario simply because they are given a monopoly on the physical sciences and engineering principles in this State. But GM is right, you can parse all you like…

@ Jeffrey…
The Georgia General Assembly has not addressed a true issue since 1992 when they finally took on the lottery and distribution formula for the revenues. Since that time they have kicked every can and bottle down the road. They play at the taxpayers expense and pass their faux rage at “Washington.” The Legislature and its phony sessions has more to do with we continue to feel the recession to this day… Still, I understand what will happen in January, I put on a metal chastity belt Wednesday morning…

JSS

November 5th, 2010
6:36 pm

The Legislature and its phony sessions has more to do with “why” we continue to feel the recession to this day…

JSS

November 5th, 2010
6:47 pm

@ A.J.
“You need look no further than the new black panthers and the majority of churches that serve the black community.”
That is like going ape over a Klan Rally at Georgia Southern supporting a psychology student who refused to provide unbiased therapy sessions to same sex couples because she does not believe in it as a lifestyle. You can pick out that small segment, and it is .005% of the whole America. If you get indignant about the “New Black Panthers” or “Black Salvation Theology.” you’re wasting good time!

Last Man Standing

November 5th, 2010
6:54 pm

JSS:

Well, just pardon the hell out of me! I didn’t name a school or specify the state of Georgia, did I?

“If you cared about those young black kids, you would be telling them to go to the best college they can get a scholarship from to get the best education possible”

I guess you will need to point out to me where I mentioned either UGA or GT.

Will Jones - Atlanta Jeffersonian Exegesis

November 5th, 2010
7:02 pm

“Who should lead them out of the wilderness?”

A: Anyone willing to call for the heads of Bush and Cheney, and the expropriation and extirpation of the Roman Anti-Christ’s “Fifth Column” in America.

MrLiberty

November 5th, 2010
8:17 pm

WAW and Ummm, do the math – Let’s see if we can’t straighten the two of you out on economics and history.

First, the FDIC doesn’t guarantee your savings. The american taxpayer does. This guarantee allows banks to behave recklessly with your money with the clear knowledge that the american taxpayer will pick up the tab if they fail. Currently the FDIC is billions and billions of dollars in debt themselves thanks to the recklessnes the program has bred. So your money may appear safe, but how much have you lost in taxes, etc. because of the presence of the FDIC. And by the way, if the banks pittance they pay to the FDIC covered losses, they would not be that much in debt.

Second, you have electricity because the company that sells you electricity has a business incentive to make sure the lines go to your house and that they are intact and delivering you their product. The real question to ask is why should any taxpayer have their money stolen (yes, that’s where government money comes from) just so that someone else can have wiring run to their home? That is socialism and outright theft.

MrLiberty

November 5th, 2010
8:24 pm

Then there is the issue of the state and federal parks. The “government” didn’t create those. They used stolen taxpayer money to “purchase” them from the wealthy land owners like the Rockefellers (who own all the beautiful land adjacent to Yellowstone. What this did was allow the Rockefellers to make a huge fortune off the sale while using the restrictive power of the park service to make sure that nobody else lives near their land and that only a handful are allowed to stay in the park in designated areas that don’t bother them. What the CCC has to do with any of this I am not sure, but certainly every dollar spent on aquisition and upkeep is stolen from taxpayers or the limited number of guests that are “allowed” to visit during each year. As for the national forests, there is no bigger big business kickback program in the country (except maybe the two wars). Private lumber companies pay pennies on the dollar of what the lumber is worth to come in and rape the land while the taxpayer again pays for road construction and the like to make it easy for the trucks to get the lumber out. On private lands, timber is rarely clear cut, forests are carefully managed and the land is treated with respect because it is privately owned. It is in the interest of folks like Georgia Pacific and others to maintain a healthy and profitable renewable forest.

MrLiberty

November 5th, 2010
8:34 pm

Then there is the situation of your investments. The problem with these began with another socialist progressive Woodrow Wilson. He pushed for and got the Federal Reserve which allowed him to inflate his way to paying for WWI. The Federal Reserve’s extra money created a bubble that burst immediately following the war. The wise Warren Harding ignored the advice of his idiot sec. of treasury Herbert Hoover and allowed the dust to settle where it needed to and the debt and misallocations to correct themselves without government intervention. Despite the fact that the crisis was worse than the crash of 1929, this crisis resolved itself within 1 1/2 years. The Fed then began inflating the money supply again which led to the stock market bubble that burst in 29. Hoover got his chance to try his idiotic government intervention. FDR actually condemned Hoover’s massive spending spree as irresponsible and ran on a fiscally conservative ticket. So much for that. He simply continued Hoover’s policies and today, even such liberal universities as UCLA have concluded that FDR’s actions prolonged the Depression and that it likely would have ended in only a couple of years had he just kept his nose out of it. Additionally, he stole the gold from all americans in 1934, immediately changed the value of gold from 20 dollars per oz to 35 (a number he pulled out of the air over breakfast one morning), and this allowed him the extra money to spend, spend, spend. Meanwhile, this inflation further erroded the value of everyone’s dollars and savings. Today the Fed continues this reckless inflation and since Nixon completely separated the dollar from gold’s inherent limits on inflation the dollar has lost an addition 70% of its value. The dot com bubble of the 80’s and 90’s and the housing bubble we have just seen are all the product of the loose monetary policy of the Fed. The reckless behavior of Wall Street and the Bankers is just the natural result of eliminating the responsibility component by making the taxpayers the suckers who pick up the tab. Yes, blame Clinton, but blame every president since Wilson too for they were all responsible for not abolishing the Fed.

MrLiberty

November 5th, 2010
8:43 pm

Now let’s look at FDR. We already saw that his policies were the cause of the Depression lasting so long (and of course Obama is following suit with the same kind of failed policies). He stole all the gold from americans and we only got the right to own it back in 1974. But he also was responsible for provoking the Japanese into attacking Pearl Harbor. It is well documented that his blockade of Japan, cutting off their oil and food supply, force the Japanese hand and was described to him by Admiral Stinson, his secretary of war as and act of war itself. It is also well docuemented that FDR knew about the attack on Pearl Harbor and let it happen without warning anyone because he was desperate to drag the country into the war despite the overwhelming opposition among americans (sound familiar – looks like this is in the democrat playbook). He also felt that such massive government spending would pull us out of the depression (it didn’t. only his death and the end of the war and his horrible policies did that), and he needed to pay back his friends in industry with massive government welfare spending on the wartime economy.

I learned a lot of government propaganda in school, but then I got out and bothered to get a real education in economics and history. The victors always get to write the history books. Only the gullible and the ignorant believe them without checking other sources.

FDR was one of the worst presidents we had. The pain and suffering his policies caused continue to this day with the societal dependence on the beyond bankrupt Social Security system and the massive government bureaucracy that is sucking the life from our economy. Sadly so many are like you two – ignorant of history and believers in fantasies written in government approved text books.

@ Mr Liberty

November 5th, 2010
10:13 pm

Take one of your pills and go to bed. You are wound up waaaaaaay too tight, dude.

FDR:Our Greatest President

November 5th, 2010
10:37 pm

Has it occured to you, Mr. Liberty, that no one wants to debate you because you are WAY CRAZY??? I’ll bet you get a Social Security check every month, though. Do you send it back? Just asking.

Alabama Communist

November 6th, 2010
12:25 am

Goldman Sachs will lead the Democrats out of the mess and than throw them under the Bus to make sure they are dead again like they did to the Republicans………….

Will Jones - Atlanta Jeffersonian Exegesis

November 6th, 2010
2:50 am

http://www.trutv.com/shows/conspiracy_theory/index.html
Jesse Ventura seeks truth, and puts it on his TV show.

Last night he nailed the banksters’ racket of unconstitutional money from the Fed, and how it is destroying the People while making fascist plutocracy more powerful. Nice that he nailed the papists, too…look up “Legatus”…be American, learn something new every day.