When the Legislature ends, payback begins

A season of law-making ends Thursday at the state Capitol. And the season of payback begins.

Climatologists tell us that the warm winter will result in a summer brimming with both ticks and tempers.

Payback is common in the male-dominated society that is the Legislature. You kill my bill, I’ll gut yours. It is the old Southern tradition of dueling, or feuding, reduced to code sections and committee meetings.

Usually, payback is confined to the Capitol. But trouble will follow a lawmaker home if the fight is too fierce, or the offender’s sin is too great.

The latter situation fits the case of state Sen. Josh McKoon, R-Columbus. It was bad enough that McKoon, a rookie finishing out his first term, was one of the few Republican lawmakers to side with those who think that members of the Legislature ought not to accept gifts worth more than $100 or so.

But McKoon may have gone a step too far. When this newspaper noted last week that a new report judged Georgia to have the weakest anti-corruption laws in the nation, McKoon pushed out a photo of the front page headline via Twitter.

On Tuesday, the Senate Rules Committee gutted a measure sponsored by McKoon that merely paired a few lawmakers with citizens interested in tougher ethics laws to form a study committee. The civilians were stripped from the committee, and membership reshuffled to eliminate McKoon – a member of Common Cause at home.

“We wanted senior members of the Legislature to be on it,” explained Don Balfour, R-Snellville, chairman of the rules committee. And he saw no need for outsiders to be involved.

At the same time, a rumor took flight outside the Senate chamber. Ranking forces in the Capitol were recruiting a fellow in Columbus to run against McKoon in the GOP primary in July.

“There’s been a lot of mumbling. I’ve heard it down here,” said Seth Harp, a former state senator who pushed McKoon to replace him in 2010. Harp is now chairman of the Muskogee County GOP. “He’d be hard to beat – the folks down here really like him, and he’s worked really hard on constituent services,” Harp said.

Incumbents are always difficult targets. But defeating the other fellow isn’t necessarily the point of fielding a primary opponent. Opposition forces an otherwise comfortable candidate to raise extra campaign cash, to spend more time knocking on doors.

In that sense, it is more an act of vandalism — a brick tossed through a window, with a note attached saying, “We know where you live.”

But payback doesn’t have to be small.

The Peach Tea Party is an alliance of several groups in Georgia whose goal is to restore the waning clout of religious conservatives in the Capitol.

On Monday, the Peach Tea Party declared it would recruit primary opposition for 17 House Republicans – most of them veteran lawmakers in metro Atlanta.

Some had opposed HB 954, the session’s most aggressive anti-abortion bill, which would reduce from 26 to 20 weeks the period during which a woman could end a pregnancy.

Others simply walked away from the vote. Still other Republicans had put their names to HB 630, a measure to eliminate discrimination in public hiring by sexual orientation or gender identity.

“These members have been flagged as Republicans in name only,” the tea party group announced.

It was a bold statement, and something of a gamble. Should the threat be revealed as empty this summer, the Peach Tea Party’s influence when the General Assembly gathers next year will be considerably weakened.

“Of course, you take it seriously,” said state Rep. Sharon Cooper, R-Marietta, one of those made the Peach Tea Party list. “You do have to raise money. But what they forget is that I like to meet people in my district,” she said. Cooper was targeted by Georgia Right to Life, an anti-abortion group, in 2010, and won her primary with 62 percent of the vote.

Cooper is chairman of the House Health and Human Services Committee, trained in a Catholic hospital and has taught obstetric nursing. She walked out of the vote for HB 954, the anti-abortion bill. The measure lacked an exception for rape and incest, which she might have tolerated. But it also omitted an exception for pregnancies in which the fetus has no chance of survival.

(After passage by the House, the Senate addressed Cooper’s concern for “medically futile” pregnancies, but the amended bill is now stalled.)

“What these groups forget is – they think that all districts reflect how they are,” Cooper said. The suburbs of metro Atlanta aren’t the bastions of Republicans that they once were. Rick Santorum finished third in her district in this month’s presidential primary.

“I’m probably more conservative than my district, because I am pro-life,” she said. Cooper, a 16-year veteran of the Legislature, doesn’t like to be threatened, but she’s also steamed because she sees her Republican party losing touch with the political center.

During her first eight years in the Capitol, Cooper said she saw Democrats pushed too far to the left – and out of the Capitol.

“If Republicans are pushed too far to the right,” she said, “it won’t be next year or the year after, but it will happen to them, too.”

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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58 comments Add your comment

Centrist

March 28th, 2012
6:19 pm

Sounds to me that Sen. Josh McKoon, R-Columbus is a hero, and his constituents will love him even more. The “payback” sounds hollow.

Once again we have Galloway putting up the fringe Peach Tea Party as if it represents the overall precepts of the Tea Party itself. It does not. At least today Galloway added this: [Targeting moderate Republicans is a] “bold statement, and something of a gamble. Should the threat be revealed as empty this summer, the Peach Tea Party’s influence when the General Assembly gathers next year will be considerably weakened.”

Agree

March 28th, 2012
6:28 pm

Agree with Centrist. Can you really take on people by saying they are too ethical?

Centrist

March 28th, 2012
6:30 pm

On another subject in the news – it looks as if the entire Obamacare (Affordable Care Act) that got rammed through a Democratic Congress in a strictly partisan vote may be scrapped. There is no chance that a bi-partisan replacement can pass in an election year. The following items have already been implemented. Either market forces will maintain them, and/or Congress may adopt them in new stopgap legislation until future comprehensive bi-partisan (or Heaven forbid, a partisan Republican government) legislation passes:

Eliminated pre-existing conditions

Coverage up to age 26 for dependents

Closed the Medicare doughnut hole

Small business health insurance tax credits

Expanded coverage for early retirees

Added free preventative care

Eliminate lifetime limits

Payments to rural healthcare providers

Prescription discounts

Just Wait

March 28th, 2012
6:33 pm

Fortunately, it appears that the Tea Party and it’s factions are on the way out. Extremist on either side are just that, extremist. Neither represent the majority of the public. Their demise and a return to more moderate thinking will only make this state and country a better place to live.

Tom

March 28th, 2012
6:34 pm

The Peach Tea Party is NOT “Tea Party”…they’re simply social conservatives who thought that hijacking the “tea” moniker would trick a few into thinking they weren’t the same religio-fascist moonbat busy-bodies they’ve been all along. Several are the same pointy-headed bimbos that spent much of last year’s GA session fighting Sunday sales…because, as you know, nanny-state government is such a conservative principle.

Luckily, many of them are getting pretty old. Tick…tick….tick….

Centrist

March 28th, 2012
6:41 pm

@ Just Wait – You couldn’t be more wrong, and you will see it after the conventions. These real Tea Party core convictions will be largely promoted without help from the liberal media which largely disagrees:

http://www.teaparty-platform.com/

1. Eliminate Excessive Taxes

2. Eliminate the National Debt

3. Eliminate Deficit Spending

4. Protect Free Markets

5. Abide by the Constitution of the United States

6. Promote Civic Responsibility

7. Reduce the Overall Size of Government

8. Believe in the People

9. Avoid the Pitfalls of Politics

10. Maintain Local Independence

(Nothing racist or religious – but usually the leftist smear)

Dave

March 28th, 2012
6:44 pm

Gosh, a semi-rational Republican. Pro-life but rational. Someone that you could talk to about what’s the best way to deal with a divisive issue. Work something out. And she gets attacked by the crazies on her side of the aisle. Vote to make a a woman deliver an unviable, dead by any definition, fetus or we’ll call you a RINO and haunt you. Damn you you semi-rational Republicans in the State Senate.

shady

March 28th, 2012
6:57 pm

But NAME those SELL OUT DEMOCRATS who voted for the Charter Schools Bill so we can punish both them and the Scumbag Republicans who voted for Re-segregation of the Schools. Only the well served and the wealthy will benefit from such a bill a lot of hardworking people will be severely punished especially in the Rural areas. Taking money away from struggling Public School and giving it to the Aristocracy will not work. Name NAMES!

Centrist

March 28th, 2012
7:15 pm

shady posted “But NAME those SELL OUT DEMOCRATS who voted for the Charter Schools Bill so we can punish both them and the Scumbag Republicans”

I’m sure it is public record, but why would the AJC want to help the Republicans who voted for this popular legislation, and possibly get doomed Democrat opposition for the Democrats who voted for it? The AJC wants fewer Republicans and more Democrats, and spotlighting names would only possibly get the reverse.

DannyX

March 28th, 2012
7:15 pm

Not a good move on the part of that Christian group to attach Tea Party to their name.

Conservative Christians may not have as much clout with the legislature these days but what they do have is way more than the flailing Georgia Tea Party.

The Tea Party was ignored on just about everything this year, ethics, taxes and protest legislation. The Tea Party exists in name only here in Georgia. They were shut out. The Tea Party has no clout, and no power in Georgia.

The only remains left of the Tea Party are the carcasses of politically corrupt Tea Party leaders, Chip Rogers and Tom Graves.

John

March 28th, 2012
7:17 pm

McKoon is a facist tool who believes that you are guilty until proven innocent. I don’t even live in the snake’s district, but if a primary challenger arises to him I will make it a point to send said challenger a check.

Dave

March 28th, 2012
7:34 pm

John, could you explain your opinion. McKoon thinks it would be a good idea to have an ineffectual committee to “study” ethics, the powers that be exclude him and everyone except insiders and you think that means he thinks his fellow legislators are guilty? Of what, since we have no real ethics laws? Please do explain the fascist, rather than facist, angle. Thanks.

Jack

March 28th, 2012
7:39 pm

Your opinion counts if you voted. Otherwise…

Lars

March 28th, 2012
7:57 pm

I don’t know how Don Balfour sleeps at night.

double

March 28th, 2012
8:20 pm

Rogers and Graves the motel magnates.The fiscal responsible.The bank made me do it.

bronson

March 28th, 2012
9:33 pm

Balfour Bad Boy

March 28th, 2012
9:37 pm

I sleep just fine, Lars. After me and my girlfriend get some action down, I rest peacefully in my $30,000 tax-free condo.

Centrist

March 28th, 2012
9:40 pm

I don’t suppose the Romney endorsements from Rubio and Bush will move either hopeless candidates Gingrich or Santorum to concede. They are going to be pushed off the stage before getting to deliver their “Swan songs”. Vaudeville used to use a long handled hook.

bronson

March 28th, 2012
9:40 pm

I’m beginning to think that centrist is employed by the ajc as an agitator, given that his verbose, incoherent rants somehow escape the filters.

Centrist

March 28th, 2012
9:46 pm

Over a hundred of the leaders of the Republican party are “super-delegates” for the convention. They are maneuvering next to the Gong like the old TV Gong Show. When an act was on the verge of being gonged, the laughter and anticipation built as the judges patiently waited to deliver the coup de grace: They would stand up slowly and heft their mallets deliberately, letting everyone know what was coming. Sometimes, pantomimed disputes would erupt between judges, as one celebrity would attempt to physically obstruct another from gonging the act. The camera would cut back and forth between the performers onstage, and the mock struggle over their fate. Sometimes an act was “Gang-Gonged”, meaning it was so bad that it was gonged by two or even all three judges at once.

Bernie

March 28th, 2012
9:51 pm

Oh yes, payback will be made at the ballot box come November for sure. The Women of Georgia, Hispanic and Latino communities, African American communities, Students, Independents, Senior Citizens along with the LBGT communitiy will lead the charge and say to the Republican Leadership and Tea Party of Georgia. ENOUGH! we have had our fill of your madness and its time for a change for the better and not business as usual.

This does not mean that conservative democrats will be safe from expulsion from their positions. they too, will be judged as well by the same criteria as the Republicans. This election is being posed to be a landslide shift in the political landscape that will not be soon forgotten. So Ladies and gentleman fasten your seatbelts for we are in a political storm with clear Blue skies straight ahead.

Cutty

March 28th, 2012
9:59 pm

Centrist- Get a job. Or a hobby! Sheesh! You’re on the blogs as much as the bloggers themselves.

td

March 28th, 2012
10:03 pm

Bernie

March 28th, 2012
9:51 pm

Can you send me some of what you are smoking? It sure seems to be making you forget about all reality.

Ronnie Raygun

March 28th, 2012
10:15 pm

Who do these Peach Tea Baggers think they are? They aren’t a front group for the Koch brothers like the “real” Tea Baggers.

td

March 28th, 2012
10:33 pm

Ronnie Raygun

March 28th, 2012
10:15 pm

Who do these Peach Tea Baggers think they are?

They are the silent majority that runs this state. If you want to get ahead then you need to learn who they are and start sucking up a little.

honested

March 28th, 2012
11:27 pm

‘The silent majority’, now that is truly rich and warped beyond normal hilarity!

If there were a ’silent majority’ one would have assumed that by now they would have stepped in and done something to stop the sophomoric cascade of unconstitutional bills that should they receive the Governor’s signature would only guarantee the additional waste of millions of dollars defending them until they are finally ruled unConstitutional.

With all this silliness about who is most anti-homosexual, anti-immigrant, anti-abortion, anti-education you would almost be led to believe we had solved the water wars or that we had adequately funded the EPD to protect our rivers and streams from poisonous runoff, or that real and comprehensive transportation reforms had been enacted…..

But, this is GEORGIA where a bunch or religious nuts pretending to represent numbers beyond their paltry participation claims the mantle of restoring us to some distant and forgettable zenith.

You just can’t make this stuff up.

honested

March 28th, 2012
11:29 pm

And to Bernie’s point….

Ladies, this is the most important year in my lifetime for YOU to vote in YOUR interest.

You have the numbers and you can kick the air out of the crazy bag!

Don't You Believe It

March 28th, 2012
11:31 pm

I aint a Repub and *I* know who’s gonna control this state for the next 50-100 years.

Hint: It aint the dems. They’re more incompotent than a sack of ducks on a ferris wheel and weaker than a Republican’s ethics.

Bernie

March 28th, 2012
11:43 pm

td @10:03 pm – Thats exactly the what I am saying about You and your ILK, The republicans and Tea Baggers in the face of reality, insist on refusing realities occurrence despite it being before their very eyes. However in November the voting numbers will further verify and document it for you. Then just maybe, you will pull your head out of that very dark place, where it has been stuck for some time. :)

td

March 29th, 2012
12:00 am

Bernie

March 28th, 2012
11:43 pm

Come on now you really need to give up whatever you are taking tonight. I really need to feel as loopy as you sound. I guess you seem to forget that there are many conservative women in this state. They are mostly suburban married women with children or they live outside the metro area. They are the ones that keep their families together, make their children attend church. They totally control their families and as such do not like abortion, do not like outside influences that corrupt their family and do not want their children to ever abort their grandchildren. These are the true conservatives in the movement and will NEVER vote of a progressive.

td

March 29th, 2012
12:02 am

honested

March 28th, 2012
11:27 pm

That silent majority sure did raise its head in the 2010 elections didn’t they? I am starting to believe that they have not gone back yet to there children and jobs but instead are just waiting to unleash their wrath one more time in November. They are just laying low right now.

ld

March 29th, 2012
12:50 am

“WANING clout or religious conservatives” (emphasis added)–
if only this were true, a considerable part of the nations would not still think most of still use outhouses.

What state do YOU live in anyway?

ld

March 29th, 2012
12:54 am

Oops; did not mean to make “nation” plural–but from what I’ve read on the web, the Santorum candidacy (Georgia’s pick of candidates) has people in other nations agog–and NOT in a good way.

Bernie

March 29th, 2012
1:25 am

td @ 12:00 am, You are right to a point. However the Republicans have made contraceptives an issue and that is a serious issue of WOMEM of all BACKGROUNDS especially those of the younger generation. To have a group of majority of MALES through FIAT make their healthcare decisions without their consent,input or feelings of consideration will force them to unite to make a point That I AM A PERSON of VALUE and INTELLIGENCE and I resent anyone’s authority to treat me OTHERWISE.

Even Younger Republican women are taken aback at such MALE arrogorance!

Z

March 29th, 2012
2:42 am

Georgia, the most corrupt state in the Nation, Georgia THE MOST CORRUPT STATE IN THE NATION! HELLO, IS ANYONE LISTENING? Could it be because for the last ten years we have had the ethically challenged self serving Republicans in control. We have gone backwards as a state since this group of morons have been in control. We will continue to slide backward until these fruitcake extremist are voted out of office. If they have an R by their name Vote them out. Clean House, that will be the only way to rid this state of the corruption/ideology that now exists. Be careful who you vote for, these republicans, remember, are ethically challenged so don’t vote in a worse self serving snake oil salesman. And for those Dem’s who voted for the school charter bill. I hope your days in office are numbered as well. Our schools are second from last in the Nation and you want to put the nail in the coffin, shame on all of you R’s and D’s who vote for this bill.
Women, get your ID if you don’t have one, get registered, and VOTE when the time comes. Remember what they have tried to do. They will do it again, Fanatic’s are like that, they will never give up with their personal mission of taking a Woman’s rights away. We have to rid not only our state R’s but at the Washington level as well. These extremist office holders that want to get into a woman’s personal business and take our Health-care away, are not who we want running our State or be our Representative’s in Washington. VOTE, VOTE THEM ALL OUT!

John

March 29th, 2012
4:18 am

Dave: He is also the sponsor of the Democrats’ (specifically, Rob Teilhet’s) DNA Upon Arrest bill, among SEVERAL others that presume guilt rather than presume innosence. Even in the ethics bill, he defaults to assuming that all OTHER legislators are unethical, then proceeds from there.

seabeau

March 29th, 2012
6:02 am

Ga. is not the most corrupt state in the Nation. The study said that it was the most at Risk for corruption due to the lack of laws against corruption. That is not the same thing you dolt! Remember It was a Democratic controlled school board responsible for the ethices scandal in testing. And guess what else? More schools in other demo controlled cities appear to have testing issues. It gets better! The same Democratically controlled cities were the first to object against the several states new Voter ID Laws,stating that voter cheating does not exist!! Really?

bronson

March 29th, 2012
6:28 am

Remember that Deal’s corruption only manifest itself after he converted from a D to an R. It was part of the change.

Bobby

March 29th, 2012
8:04 am

Only a matter of time before Websters defines “corruption” as “Georgia Republican Legislature”. Senator Balfour is obviously lying when he speaks.

American

March 29th, 2012
8:16 am

No one should vote for any of these incumbent legislators. I plan to write in my name instead to send a message until they adopt ethics reform. They should be ashamed of their bad behavior and unwillingness to serve by high principled standards. They are just too greedy and have gotten used to feeding at the trough of freebies…

honested

March 29th, 2012
8:16 am

seabeau,

A quick question.
Can you identify ANY cases of voter fraud in GA in the last 25 years?
And to education corruption, which party was each of the two recent State School Superintendent’s that are either serving time or paying fines from? Aren’t they the highest ranking school officials and didn’t both inflict their pain on GA since 2003?

Bob Loblaw

March 29th, 2012
8:23 am

We don’t belong to a Tea Party. We ran on the Republican party ticket.

honested

March 29th, 2012
8:33 am

Bobby,

Webster’s certainly as a plethora of ‘usual suspects’ to supply a picture for an example of ‘corrupt politician’ as well amongst our sad and pathetic gop ‘leadership’.

td

March 29th, 2012
8:34 am

honested

March 29th, 2012
8:16 am

If you are not checking voter ids then how would you find fraud? I posted a story yesterday of a reporter that walked into the recent Primaries in NH and gave his name of a dead person he found in newspaper and received numerous ballots at numerous polling places and could have voted. Guess what NH does not require an ID. How many dead people are found voting in every election cycle, that are found out later?

Yes, there is voter fraud going on in every election cycle.

Real American

March 29th, 2012
8:36 am

td, you are completely and utterly stupid. LMAO, now you’re citing James O’Keefe as a “reporter” that uncovered nothing but how silly he is. LMAO

td

March 29th, 2012
8:54 am

Real American

March 29th, 2012
8:36 am

He uncovered nothing? Did he or did he not walk into multiple precincts in NH and receive ballots to vote using the names of dead people? Tell you what, lets post the stories and let the posters decide who is willing to stick their head in the sand for ideological reasons and who looks at facts. He just came out with a new one about how easy it is to register as a fake person in Minn and receive a absentee ballot. The no ID was for Vermont not NH.

http://www.mediaite.com/online/james-okeefes-fake-tim-tebow-voter-fraud-investigation-doesnt-have-a-prayer/

http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2012/03/13/OKeefe%20Video%20Exposes%20Voter%20Fraud-Friendly%20Policies%20in%20Vermont

Just because you do not like the reporter does not mean his report was untrue.

Michael #1

March 29th, 2012
8:55 am

Seabeau, nice slant on the story. You ought to be a regular on FAUX News.

DannyX

March 29th, 2012
9:07 am

LOL td! Next you think you can link to a breitbart.com video of a bloodied Zimmerman entering the Sanford Florida police station?

I hear O’Keefe was wonderful playing a bloodied Zimmerman in the video. Oscar worthy!

WOW

March 29th, 2012
9:18 am

TD:

So is asking for immunity surrounding the reports not an admission that they were false?

Mark P

March 29th, 2012
9:19 am

I’d never heard of Don Balfour before he came out bragging about being continually reelected even when redirecting special fees to make up for tax shortfalls. Now he seems to be coming out more and more frequently being on the wrong side of the public interest. I hope he gets his payback when he’s up for reelection again.