Casey Cagle: Senate ‘experiment’ is against tradition

We have talked about the difficult position Senate President pro tem Tommie Williams and Majority Leader Chip Rogers are in when it comes to the power struggle in that chamber.

But Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle is in a tight spot, too. He can’t be perceived as having any personal ambition to have his powers over the chamber restored.

Below is how Cagle responded, in an interview with Nwandi Lawson of Georgia Public Broadcasting, to House Speaker David Ralston’s call for the Senate to end its “little experiment” with alternative leadership. We believe this is the only sitdown interview the lieutenant governor has given:

Said Cagle:

”Clearly the [House] speaker was very frustrated yesterday, and I think he made a very valid point. It’s been an experiment that really is against tradition within the state Senate.

“You’ve always had the lieutenant governor not only as the presiding officer but as the real leader of the Senate. And the rules changes took some of those powers away. It really has clogged the process down. And I think the speaker was very accurate in his comments that the ‘experiment’ is not working, and that progress has not been able to be done.

“And it’s affecting the real business of the state of Georgia. And it’s an issue that does have to be resolved. We’re hopeful that this can get resolved this session. But if not, we’ll come back after the session and continue. Because it is important that the Senate as an institution have a very strong leader and is able to advance the causes that are important to the citizens of Georgia – certainly tax reform, along with immigration, the budget – all of those issues….”

Cagle’s rivals for power, Williams and Rogers, have declined invitations to make their positions known.

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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44 comments Add your comment

Just Wait

April 1st, 2011
2:11 pm

Republicans can’t get along with Democrats. Republicans can’t get along with Republicans. Every time they gain the majority, they begin to feed on themselves. All the while, the poor middle class finds itself paying for more and getting less.


April 1st, 2011
2:12 pm

Much much teeth in that argument, Mr. Cagle. Is that all you’ve got?

Betty Lobby

April 1st, 2011
2:34 pm

Mr. Galloway, you are good at aiding the Lt Gov’s pr machine, but the reality is the constitution defines the role of the Lt Gov and like the vice presidency it isn’t worth a warm bucket of spit. He presides, but if he needs more duties he should ask the Governor. Cagle is a member of the executive branch and should not be a ruler and supreme commander of one half of the legislative branch of our state government!


April 1st, 2011
2:45 pm

Cagle is full of! Where was he when Mark Taylor’s powers were stripped by the Senate? Repuklicans are such a bunch of liars and hypocrites!


April 1st, 2011
2:53 pm

Mr. Cagle did himself and should not be allowed to lead.


April 1st, 2011
2:54 pm

Cagle is full of! Where was he when Mark Taylor’s powers were stripped by the Senate? Repuklicans are such a bunch of liars and hypocrites!

I am not a Taylor fan, voted for Cagle, and I agree with that. This boo hoo brigade makes me want to gag! Poor me, poor leader of the house and their tax increase is having difficulty. If only Cagle was in charge to ram a tax increase down our throats?

Mid Ga Retiree

April 1st, 2011
2:56 pm

Has anyolne stopped to consider that Democrats might have the same problem getting along with each other that Republicans have. The difference could be that the Democratic controlled news media makes a new front page headline every time a Republican breaks wind, while more times than not choosing not to report on Democratic infighting. Mr. Ralston was correct yesterday when he lamented the problems arising out of the State Senate. Unfortunately, those involved in the power struggle are only trying to elevate their own power instead of putting the needs of Georgians first. Then again, that’s politics.


April 1st, 2011
2:58 pm

Betty, I am no fan of the Lt. Governor, but to be fair, the Lt Governor position is a constitutional office, not an executive selection. He/She is elected by the people, not appointed.

I do not believe the Governor could tell the Lt Governor what to do. I could be wrong…

The Ghost of Lester Maddox

April 1st, 2011
3:01 pm

I agree with “cs”. I don’t recall Brother Casey stomping up and down the thick cushy carpeted aisles of the Senate when then Lt Gov Mark Taylor was publicly neutered by the Repubs.


April 1st, 2011
3:06 pm

Cagle voted in 2003 and 2005 to make sure Mark Taylor had no real authority. How can he say current Senate Rules are against tradition? This “experiment” worked for four years and it’s working again. And of course the Speaker is opposed since the House has to cover more bases to cut deals.

Booger Fling

April 1st, 2011
3:18 pm

You gotta love it!

Snakes everywhere you look in ATL

Southside Shawty

April 1st, 2011
3:36 pm

Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right!


April 1st, 2011
3:56 pm

Republican controlled Senate with a Republican Lt. Gov./ Senate President, I would think they could move important bills of bureaucracy through the body, even the bad bills. Politics is not a favorable word to the masses.


April 1st, 2011
4:01 pm

bunch of power hungry people! do they even care about us taxpayers? NOT!

Port O'John

April 1st, 2011
4:05 pm

Hey these clowns screwing stuff up in the gold dome aren’t from Atlanta. The majority of the Atlanta delegation are democrats. Its the Republicans from the suburbs, exurbs and rural Georgia that have been screwing up this state for 10 years (Remember Sonny Perdue?). The dems already had their go as screwing up this state for 150 years. So, only 140 years of inept, bullying GOP-style government to go.

But nice try to blame it on Atlanta — is that all you folks can think of?

Here’s my retort:

Question: What’s the quickest way to get to Alabama from Little 5 Points?

Answer: 20 miles in any direction. Once you get outside the perimeter, its all Alabama.


April 1st, 2011
4:22 pm

Good points that this is nothing new, and that it is a media event.

It has little if any impact on the public, but there is not much other political news until after the break and more action is done on immigration and taxes.


April 1st, 2011
4:32 pm

Jim is still afraid to discuss the Lowery/Fort suit to eliminate Sandy Springs, Dunwoody, John’s Creek and Chatahoochee Hills because they deprive black people of thier voiting rights. This is just too outrageous for the people of Atlanta to stay quiet about it. I would love for someone to try to offer a rational defense of the suit. Can you imagine the carnage in Atlanta if this suit to overturn these cities were sucessful?

Debbie Dooley

April 1st, 2011
4:37 pm

Against tradition? If I am not mistaken, Cagle was one of the ones that voted to strip Mark Taylor of his power when the GOP took control of the Senate.

If Cagle had still been in control of the Senate, the tax reform bill that raised taxes on the middle class, that the House initially would introduced have sailed to passage.


April 1st, 2011
4:41 pm

Liar, liar, PolitiFact is going to rule your pants on fire


April 1st, 2011
4:52 pm

BTW, how do you request a fact check?


April 1st, 2011
5:12 pm

Cagle and Governor have facial resemblance.


April 1st, 2011
5:23 pm

Glen Richardson was forced from office for his disgraceful behavior but Cagle was allowed to remain? I guess Cagle’s wife was given a hush money and Richardson’s wife wasn’t. Where is the I-team when you really need them?


April 1st, 2011
5:57 pm

What do you expect when you elect attorneys, real estate appraisers, insurance agents, and motivational speakers. Why can’t they focus on the real problem, cutting expenses, rather than trying to re-name taxes?


April 1st, 2011
6:10 pm

He was one of the reasons the sale of alcohol was bottled up in the legislature for a number of years. We saw in the end few legislators voted against it. It was a few powerful people that kept it bottled up.


April 1st, 2011
6:27 pm

Debbie, glad to see you call it as it is. What do you make of this story from the Athens Banner Herald that Cagle cut a deal with the Senate Dems to eliminate some of his own Republicans in redistricting in exchange for their votes.

i’ve seen some low stuff in politics before but that’s pretty astounding. Gutting your own people to just get some power back. whoa.


April 1st, 2011
6:47 pm

Many Traditions of Government need to be and MUST be changed!

I have heard that a big part of the reason that this “dust up” has occurred is that many Dems and some Republicans are very frightened about REDISTRICTING!


April 1st, 2011
7:01 pm

The GA constitution says in article 3 on the leg branch that the presiding officer of the Senate is the President of the Senate. The Pro Tem acts as President in case of the temporary disability of the President. Article5 on the exec branch says the Lt Gov shall be President of the Senate and have such executive duties as prescribed the Gov and law. So the Const seems to put the Lt Gov in both branches.

I expect somebody who is President and presiding officer to be able to do more than wave a gavel and smile for the camera. Before the Const was amended in 1945 to create the office of Lt Gov, the Senate chose their President. The constitutional provision for who is President of the Senate looks like the voters get to choose the leader not the Senators.

I didn’t like it when they did it to Mark Taylor either. It circumvents the role of the voters.

Also if the Pro Tem only serves as President in case of disability, the Pro Tem should not have more power than the President but less. Don’t know why some think Casey would have let the initial tax bill thru either. He would never have gotten reelected if he loved raising taxes.


April 1st, 2011
7:09 pm

OPP, I have heard the same thing. Cagle was one of the reasons the fees/bed tax bill passed. He rammed it through. When he was stripped of power, people began to have hope that things were going to be different and we would see no tax bills pass. I am disappointed the some Republicans support Cagle. Guess they want to go back to passing bills that raise fees


April 1st, 2011
7:14 pm

Whoknowz, The Vice-President is the presiding officer/President of the U.S Senate and he has no power.

Scene Christmas | CHRISTMAS JOY

April 1st, 2011
7:22 pm

[...] tradition [...]


April 1st, 2011
8:22 pm

By Blake Aued – Athens Banner-Herald

Published April 1st, 2011

A war seems to be brewing in the state Senate pitting Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, loyal Republicans, Senate Democrats and House Speaker David Ralston against a group of Republican senators, including Bill Cowsert of Athens, who led a coup against Cagle last year.

The AJC’s Jim Galloway has the blow-by-blow.

Background: Senate President Pro Tem Tommie Williams of Lyons, Majority Leader Chip Rogers of Woodstock, Cowsert and five other senators convinced the GOP caucus in December to strip Cagle of his power to make committee assignments, a power he had used to whip senators into line. A committee of eight senators, including Cowsert, now appoints other committees.

Part of the rules changes involved moving points of personal privilege, when senators can talk about whatever they want, from the beginning to the end of the day’s business. Sen. George Hooks, D-Americus, made an unexpected motion on Thursday to put them back at the beginning.

Recognizing what was about to happen, Rogers moved to engross the motion, meaning no one could amend it to, say, restore Cagle’s powers. The motion failed, and the measure moved to the Senate Rules Committee, where it died.

Vengeance is mine, sayeth the Lite Guv

The interesting part – which has gone unreported and explains why this has turned into such a big deal – came out in a subsequent caucus meeting, according to several sources.

Apparently Cagle had cut a deal with Democrats to help him restore his power. In exchange for their votes, he would put Democrats in charge of three committees and ensure that four Republican-leaning districts are redrawn to favor Democrats. Those districts are represented by Cowsert and Sens. Johnny Grant of Milledgeville, John Bulloch of Ochlocknee in southwest Georgia and Fran Millar of Atlanta.

Cagle spokesman Ben Fry called the preceding paragraph “completely inaccurate,” but it was confirmed by other Gold Dome insiders who asked that their names be kept out because they have friends on both sides.

Cowsert, as you may recall, was propelled to victory in 2006 in what was once a swing district by an unusual mid-decade redistricting that swapped part of heavily Democratic Clarke County for part of heavily Republican Walton County. He hasn’t returned calls seeking comment.

Cagle’s plot came to light in a subsequent caucus meeting, where Republican senators voted overwhelmingly to quash the rules talk until the next session.

Ralston then injected himself into the squabble because he is trying to get a tax reform bill through the House that will also pass a skeptical Senate.

Sen. Frank Ginn, R-Danielsville, voted in favor of Cagle. He doesn’t have a problem with Cowsert or the Committee on Assignments, he said, but Cagle is a long-time friend and supporter.

Otherwise, he’s keeping his lips sealed.

“What happens in caucus stays in caucus,” he said.


April 1st, 2011
8:32 pm

Debbie, I know but there are other differences in the setup of the federal and state bodies. Since the US Senate was originally designed to represent the interests of the states rather than the population, and the US constitution originally provided for the role of VP I don’t think we can necessarily draw a parallel between the two. I think that giving the VP, chosen by the electoral college, any power over the body chosen by the state legislatures would have been seen as diminishing the balance they were trying to create.

Bobby Anthony

April 1st, 2011
8:40 pm

The solution to these current problems would be for the voters to scratch every name which has the word incumbment beside it.

No dog in this hunt

April 1st, 2011
8:57 pm

The issue with the Senate is that no one is in charge. The executive has the Governor, the Judicial has the Chief Justice, The House has the Speaker, and the Senate has a committee of eight. Have you ever tried to negotiate with a headless twit? No wonder Ralston is frustrated. If the Lt. Governor isn’t in charge of the Senate, at least name a head and live with it.


April 1st, 2011
10:10 pm

Debbie, if that story is true in the Athens paper, then Cagle was sticking a knife in the back of the GOP statewide. Shame shame shame on him and the Speaker of the House. They are both unfit to lead anything!!


April 2nd, 2011
12:59 am

“@No dog in this hunt” you’re just plain wrong. The same people are in charge of the Senate, the House and the Governor’s mansion who’ve always been in charge: the Lobbyist! Georgia Power, the farm lobby, the Chamber and a few religious nut bags have ruled this state with an iron fist for years and they’re still in charge today. The only problem now is that they can’t quite figure out whose strings to pull to get the legislation they want. Either way, you’re screwed!


April 2nd, 2011
6:52 am

Here’s a thought — What is happening in the Senate is indicative of what will happen if the philosophy of the Tea Party takes hold — Every man/woman for themselves. You are not the boss of me. I would rather fight than cooperate. Results: Chaos, broken government and worse: broken society.

Not quite the image a Christian nation should portray, no?

Hypocrite Hunter

April 2nd, 2011
7:56 am

Despite the reduction in responsibilities, I haven’t heard that the budget for the office was reduced…perhaps I missed it. It is pretty frustrating when graft for representatives is ignored, but incredibly intrusive medical databases are promoted; when budgets are sliced but personal sinecures are rewarded; when teachers aren’t allowed to teach, but parents are criminalized if their 70 pound kid isn’t in a car seat; we revile government control from Obama, but endorse it for ourselves. Please give us a third option…

Definitely White Water, (yeah).

April 2nd, 2011
8:14 am

He was experimenting with alternate leadership afore experimenting with alternate leadership was coo-wall.

Buzz G

April 2nd, 2011
9:09 am

It is Mr. Cagle who is standing in the way of passage of HB 87, which is an Arizona style illegal immigration bill. Georgia has at least a hundred thousand illegal aliens. They are a burden on our education and support systems and cost the taxpayers a fortune. But onion growers and others want perpetually cheap help and so they send Mr. Cagle and other politicians checks. And politicians pretend they are doing something about illegal aliens while doing nothing.

Remember, illegal alien labor is cheap only to the employer. Many of their costs are passed on to society via higher taxes and higher insurance premiums.


April 2nd, 2011
9:30 am

Jim, check out the Savannah morning news. Larry Peterson is reporting that Sen. Buddy Carter has gone on the record that Cagle threatened the port money in the budget. So now the top infrastructure project in the state is a toy in cagle’s power plays. disgusting.


April 2nd, 2011
10:06 am

Please stop using the phrase “strip Mark Taylor.” The visual image is making me ill.


April 2nd, 2011
2:28 pm

Georgia’s Constitution defines the Lt. Governor position as a member of the Executive Branch and here is how it defines the position’s role:
“The Lieutenant Governor shall be the President of the Senate and shall have such executive duties as prescribed by the Governor and as may be prescribed by law not inconsistent with the powers of the Governor or other provisions of this Constitution.” Article 5, Section 1, Paragraph 3
In order to keep proper balance of powers, the role of the Lt Governor in the affairs of the legislative process should be very limited at most. Allowing an Executive Branch member to control the legislative process is not good for Georgia…whether it is Mr. Cagle or any future Lt. Governor of Georgia.