When the Legislature returns in January, much of Gov. Nathan Deal’s agenda will depend on whether the state Senate has resolved the leadership dispute between Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and Senate President pro tem Tommie Williams of Lyons.
Cagle lost one of his top supporters,, state Sen. Jim Butterworth, R-Cornelia, when the governor named Butterworth as the state’s new adjutant general.
Two northeast Georgia candidates survived last week’s special election to replace him. State Rep. Rick Austin won 43 percent of the vote, out of more than 15,000 cast. John Wilkinson, a former candidate for state agriculture commissioner, came in second with 39 percent. A third candidate, David Strickland, has endorsed Wilkinson. The runoff election is Dec. 6.
Austin won the first phase of the fund-raising battle with $39,095 to Wilkinson’s $32,621.
Austin is being backed by GOP senators intent on keeping the power to name chairmanships, determine committee memberships, and guide legislation out of the lieutenant governors hands. Williams, Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers of Woodstock, and Sen. Bill Cowsert of Athens each gave Austin $2,000, according to his campaign disclosures.
Sens. Cecil Staton of Macon and Buddy Carter of Pooler each gave $1,000. Austin raised a total of $9,000 from chamber members.
The lawmaker from Demorest also raised $4,200 from his fellow House members, including $1,000 each from House Majority Whip Edward Lindsey of Atlanta, and Reps. Allen Peake of Macon and Tim Bearden of Villa Rica.
But beating both groups of legislators were Georgia’s trial attorneys, who gave Austin at least $12,000.
Wilkinson’s cash shows less of a pattern – if any of your readers see one, please speak up. Much of his high-dollar contributions come from Toccoa concerns. His cash includes a $2,000 contribution from state Sen. John Bulloch of Ochlocknee, chairman of the chamber’s agricultural committee.
Wilkinson also received a last-minute, $1,000 contribution from state Sen. Jeff Mullis of Chickamauga, the chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee and a firm ally of the lieutenant governor.
- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider