Your daily jolt: With new GOP leadership, state Senate rift may be at an end

The state Senate’s two-year experiment with self-rule may be about to experience a major correction.

In a private meeting held at the edge of the earth – well, Little Ocmulgee State Park down in south Georgia – the Senate Republican caucus voted 25 to 10 to make David Shafer of Duluth the president pro tem and No. 1 leader in the chamber.

On the losing end was Bill Cowsert of Athens. He had been at the top of a slate of candidates put together by outgoing President pro tem Tommie Williams of Lyons and other GOP senators who banded together two years ago to strip Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle of his authority over the chamber.

From the official press release:

“I am humbled by the support shown by my Senate colleagues in today’s election,” said Senator Shafer. “With the upcoming legislative session less than two months away and with several critical issues needing immediate attention, it is imperative that we begin work now.”

In that same press release, Cagle – whom the state constitution names as president of the Senate — expressed “great confidence” in Shafer’s leadership. “This is a united team and together we will do great things for Georgia.”

The fact that Cagle’s name was included in the press release may be more important than what the lieutenant governor said. The breach with Senate leadership has been that wide – to the point that Gov. Nathan Deal was quietly drawn into the machinations that resulted in Thursday’s vote.

The fight for control of the Senate has disrupted the first two years of Deal’s governorship, and threatened a third.

After Shafer’s election, Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers withdrew his bid for re-election, allowing Ronnie Chance of Tyrone – the governor’s floor leader – to be elected in his stead. Other candidates on the slate withdrew as well, we’re told.

New faces emerged in the counter-coup, which could portend new spheres of influence when the Legislature convenes in January. Renee Unterman of Buford, whose district abuts Shafer’s, was a key force in gathering up votes for the new leader. Josh McKoon of Columbus – whose push for a cap on gifts from lobbyists to lawmakers has made him unpopular in many quarters of the state Capitol – served as parliamentary strategist during the Ocmulgee takeover.

Butch Miller of Gainesville was named chairman of the Senate GOP caucus. Cecil Staton of Macon retained his position as majority whip.

Senate Rules Chairman Don Balfour of Snellville did not attend the meeting. But his vote was placed in the hands of Williams and was cast by proxy. This puts Balfour on the wrong side of an important battle, and could indicate his time as chairman of the Senate’s most influential committee is about to come to an end.

Now, what does this mean for Cagle? We’re told the caucus will gather again next month in Athens to hammer out a power-sharing agreement with the lieutenant governor. One hint was offered up by state Sen. Ross Tolleson of Perry, via the Gwinnett Post:

”I think what you’ll probably see is a real balance of the lieutenant governor having some of the authority and the floor having some of the authority,” Tolleson said. “I think people want a balance.”

Senate Democratic Leader Steve Henson of Tucker said he received word of Shafer’s election last night. He, too, said the relationship between Cagle and the chamber has yet to be determined.

“In all probability the new Republican leadership will probably work more closely with the lieutenant governor than they have in the past,” Henson said. As for Shafer, Henson – whose caucus will probably make up only one-third of the Senate come January — offered up this prayer:

“David Shafer is a conservative Republican, but he ran his committee in a respectful manner, and I’m looking for him to do the same in his new position.”

On MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” this morning, U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss criticized potential secretary of state nominee Susan Rice for carrying White House water on the Benghazi attack in September, but stopped short of calling the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations a liar. Via Politico:

“I’m not saying she lied,” he said. “I’m just saying she didn’t tell. She put a softer touch on what the real facts were. That’s not lying. She just didn’t get out there and say, ‘Look, this is a terrorist attack. Somebody screwed up. We’ve got to get to the bottom of it.’ That’s where we were two days later, not five days later, and I think the American people would have been better served, and they would have a better feeling about what happened in Benghazi if the White House had just been forthcoming very quickly.”

Republicans emerged from last week’s vote without their man in the White House, but with 30 governors. Many are in Las Vegas this week for a gathering of the Republican Governors Association. Among them were Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, who was highly critical of Mitt Romney’s post-election assertion that he owed his defeat to “gifts” President Barack Obama offered to blacks, Hispanics and young people:

Republican and Democratic congressional leaders gather at the White House this morning to discuss how the “fiscal cliff” might be avoided. Key to any deal will be House Speaker John Boehner, whose maneuverability on the issue is restricted by a conservative GOP caucus. But the Washington Post has these paragraphs today:

One potential wild card in the GOP caucus might be at least 29 Republicans who are retiring or lost their elections and could provide support for a deal.

“The vast majority of Americans think that is the way to get this country back on track,” said Rep. Charles F. Bass (R-N.H.), a more moderate member who lost his election last week and said he is prepared to accept higher marginal tax rates on the wealthy, provided a deal also included major spending cuts.

Rep. Nan A.S. Hayworth (R-N.Y.) said her defeat had done nothing to change her belief that higher taxes are a bad idea. But, she added: “We’ve had an election in which there was a Senate majority that was chosen, for whatever reason, and the president was reelected. And the president has been adamant on raising taxes. So some form of a tax increase will probably occur on the wealthiest — quote, unquote — will occur.”

U.S. Rep. Phil Gingrey, R-Marietta, a retired obstetrician, said he thinks further House votes to repeal “Obamacare” its entirety would be useless. From The Hill newspaper:

Gingrey, a co-chair of the House GOP Doctors Caucus, said Republicans are beginning to recognize that the health care law — formally knows as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act — isn’t going anywhere with Obama still in the White House.

“It would be pointless, in my opinion, to have a vote on repeal of PPACA, but we know enough egregious aspects of the law that can and should be repealed, and very likely — well, somewhat likely, I should say, in a bipartisan effort,” Gingrey told reporters Thursday.

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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44 comments Add your comment


November 16th, 2012
9:32 am

Well, this is good because it will allow Senator Rogers more time to focus on issues important to Georgia citizens. Like mind control and such.


November 16th, 2012
9:39 am

You folks in Cherokee county are really ignorant or else you would not keep electing Chip “the radical”
Rogers. You folks do realize he is nuts, don’t you?

[...] State Park where Senate Republicans have chosen to change direction in leadership.  Jim Galloway has a bit more details this morning regarding the change in tone with the Lt. Governor.  While many were telegraphing this [...]

[...] Your daily jolt: With new leadership, Senate rift may be at an end | Political Insider. [...]

[...] Jim Galloway’s Political Insider: “The fact that Cagle’s name was included in the press release may be more important than what [...]

East Cobb RINO, Inc. (LLC)

November 16th, 2012
10:07 am

I knew there would be some lame duck GOP reps that without the need to get re-elected would be open for a resolution over partisan politics, but 29 is a lot. Enough to get over the top for getting a compromise deal done and still allow the hardline conservatives to vote against it. This is good news.


November 16th, 2012
10:14 am

Any removal of power/influence from Balfour, even microscopic in scope, is a plus for the state of GA since his “people” haven’t the decency to do it themselves.

Senate Rules Chair – Let The Games Begin

November 16th, 2012
10:21 am

[...] State Park where Senate Republicans have chosen to change direction in leadership.  Jim Galloway has a bit more details this morning regarding the change in tone with the Lt. Governor.  While many were telegraphing this [...]

political arsonist

November 16th, 2012
10:29 am

will can always go back to his offshore betting bookie business


November 16th, 2012
10:31 am

Barely any mention of Georgia democrats Jim??? Oh yes, I forgot. That are not any GA democrats worth a crap and therefore not worth mentioning.


November 16th, 2012
10:37 am

Ronnie Chance and David Shafer are not improvements, just more of the same. The only difference is they are both much less likely to say something stupid to the press, or to openly host conspiracy conventions on government property.

But they’re not going to improve the situation. Ronnie Chance was one of uber-lobbyist Jay Morgan’s lobbyist protoges before he got himself elected, so he is basically just answerable to special interests.

Shafer – by virtue of formerly being head of the Republican Liberty Caucus – should have been a great senator, leader, and advocate for freedom. Then he decided that allowing Sunday Sales was too much freedom for Georgians to handle, proving he has no concern for freedom and liberty at all. He only has concern for his political career.

So people can crow all they want to about how the Senate is reforming. All I see is musical chairs with new people who are no better than the ones who left.


November 16th, 2012
10:39 am

Republicans = sore losers.

[...] State Park where Senate Republicans have chosen to change direction in leadership.  Jim Galloway has a bit more details this morning regarding the change in tone with the Lt. Governor.  While many were telegraphing this [...]

Jon Lester

November 16th, 2012
10:42 am

Zaxby really makes me wish there were criteria for Senate committee assignments other than simple seniority. Competence and integrity are obviously not important factors.

Mary Elizabeth

November 16th, 2012
10:50 am

I want to inform readers to watch a very important documentary which will air tomorrow at noon on GPB-Knowledge TV. That channel is 246 on Comcast and it is free to Comcast subscribers. This program will also air on the 29th of November on that channel at 9 am, 3 pm, and 8 pm.

The name of the program is “Independent Lens: Park Avenue, Money, Power and the American Dream.”

That these wealth/power forces exist in our nation, and that they have worked to influence our national and local politicians (including some within Georgia’s Legislature) for their benefit, is not simply an opinion I am putting forth. This is factual knowledge that was aired on Georgia Public Broadcasting’s Channel 8, early this morning from 3 to 4 am. Even I was stunned by the stealthy shift of our nation’s wealth or money from control by the Middle Class to the top 1%, basically since 1977. Since that time these forces, including the Koch Brothers, deliberately have skewed our nation’s wealth upward and they have had a heavy-handed Liberatian ideology which they wish to perpetuate in America, in ways other than the vote. That is why they have been so stealthy in their goals. They could not accomplish their goals by the vote – and they had tried and failed in that democratic avenue. They have had to manipulate the public to distrust their own government to serve their mercenary and ideological goals. They have tried to dismantle our nation’s public institutions for private ones through scare tactics that many – who are unknowing – have bought into, such as that America is becoming more “Socialistic” under Barack Obama and the Democrats. I am grateful that Progressives in our nation have been exposing their stealthy agenda to the American public in the last few years.

Graphs (moving graphs) were shown on this television broadcast in which most of the wealth of this nation can be seen to have shifted from the Middle Class to the top 1% – in a drastic change from 1977 to the present day. This has not occurred through happenstance. It has been by design. We must wake up to what has been happening in America by stealthy design. Please watch this broadcast tomorrow at Noon on Channel 246 Comcast or on your GPB-Knowledge TV channel.

In my opinion, Sen. Chip Rogers, a leader in ALEC, has been influencial in this shift of power away from public institutions and public programs that benefit the Middle Class to programs that serve the interests of the wealth/power forces in our nation through private markets. Be wary of legislation that Chip Rogers may put forth in the 2013 Legislative Session in Georgia that will further dismantle public institutions and programs such as traditional public schools, and also be wary of legislation that his fellow ALEC members might put forth, including Rep. Jan Jones, Rep. Edward Lindsey, and Sen. Fran Millar.


November 16th, 2012
11:14 am

Mike, some of us do, yes. Not enough, yet, but we’re working on educating the rest of our neighbors about the idiocy of this clown, and the damage he’s doing.


November 16th, 2012
11:27 am

Now Chip will have enough time to count all of his money he will be receiving from the Charter School Corporations.

Danny O

November 16th, 2012
11:30 am

Thank you, Rep. Gingrey, for understanding that neither the 3rd or the 34th time is a charm.

Jim S.

November 16th, 2012
11:34 am

Power comes and goes in these leadership positions, although, in Georgia, we weren’t used to a lot of shifting a couple of decades ago. The state senate has historically been more transitional than the house over time. Don’t count the ‘losers’ out, however, as one need only look to the House where David Ralston was placed out in the wilderness after challenging Glenn Richardson, then he came back strong not long after. Whether these changes in the Senate will make much difference to the average Georgian remains to be seen, but, hopefully there will be more emphasis on moving the state forward.


November 16th, 2012
11:41 am

It sounds like a purge of radical extremists to me. I hope this signals a return to pragmatism on the part of the Republicans. But the devil will be in the details re policy. For example, how will they go in cooperating on implementation of Obamacare?


November 16th, 2012
11:43 am

Give the Lt. Governor no power. The Governor is the Super Legislator the people elected, not some Lt. Governor that was tacked on just in case the governor (Hummon) dies.

Norris T.

November 16th, 2012
11:51 am

Any moron smart enough to button his own shirt can get elected in this state as long as he puts an R after his name.


November 16th, 2012
11:51 am

Mary Elizabeth, using the Koch Brothers in your comments (often) makes me take your comments lightly. The Koch’s and ALEC are used ad nauseum by many as an excuse for everything that’s wrong in this country. I don’t care for the Ford Foundation, but I won’t use them as an excuse for the failures of my state.


November 16th, 2012
11:52 am

Let the dog and pony show began …Some bring a bail of hay for the pony.

I see Head master IDIOT —– (insert any cronies or shady deals name here).

Speaking of political arsonist…I for see a lot of smoke.

Georgia Voter

November 16th, 2012
12:00 pm

Chip’s total disregard for his constituents, the press and other politicians seems to be catching up to him. His “friends” are running from him like water from a broken dam. He deserves this, and I’m looking forward to watching how he functions without the power he is used to having.


November 16th, 2012
12:07 pm

If Chip Rogers represents the best that Cherokee County has, what does that say about the residents? Who in their right mind keeps voting for this fruit?


November 16th, 2012
12:22 pm

@ Milton Man

Jim did cover the Dem caucus elections, guess you don’t read.

Georgia Voter

November 16th, 2012
12:23 pm

Money, Grifter. That’s the best answer. Chip had an excellent candidate run against him this time. Brandon Beach is an honorable man. Take a look at Chip’s donors over the years. He gets a lot of money from some people I would not want to be associated with. He’s the treasurer of ALEC, for goodness sakes. Cherokee County has some good people, but also a whole lot of sheep.

Mary Elizabeth

November 16th, 2012
12:25 pm

RCB, 11:51 am

“Mary Elizabeth, using the Koch Brothers in your comments (often) makes me take your comments lightly. The Koch’s and ALEC are used ad nauseum by many as an excuse for everything that’s wrong in this country. I don’t care for the Ford Foundation, but I won’t use them as an excuse for the failures of my state.”

RCB, in all due respect, I do not believe you are aware, in depth. It was not me that highlighted the Koch Brothers in the public television broadcast, “Independent Lens: Park Avenue, Money, Power, and the American Dream.” The Koch Brothers were given that extensive highlight in that broadcast because of what they have been about for over 30 years. Moreover, public broadcasting does not spread conspiracy theories; they educate the public. Instead of having doubts about my posts, why not instead take some quality time, tomorrow at noon, to watch that public television broadcast. That documentary presents the case as to how some corporate interests and some politicians, even some local politicians, are wedded for their mutual self-interests, instead for the interests of the common good and instead of for the interests of the working/middle class, much better than can I.

As an educator, I simply want to inform the public and speak truth to the public rather than have the public accept, unknowingly, surface givens without question. The heart of education is to question in depth.

Repeated from my 10:50 am post:

“I want to inform readers to watch a very important documentary which will air tomorrow at noon on GPB-Knowledge TV. That channel is 246 on Comcast and it is free to Comcast subscribers. This program will also air on the 29th of November on that channel at 9 am, 3 pm, and 8 pm.

The name of the program is ‘Independent Lens: Park Avenue, Money, Power and the American Dream.’ ”


November 16th, 2012
12:33 pm


November 16th, 2012
12:58 pm

And the Repuke whack/nut jobs keep slithering out of the woodwork.

McCain got testy when pressed to say why he wasn’t there.
“”Probably hiding after President Obama was going give him a was shellacking””
“I have no comment about my schedule and I’m not going to comment on how I spend my time to the media,” McCain said.

And the ???? from TN pass the law but I’m above it!

Republican U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais, who opposes abortion rights, testified during divorce proceedings that he and his former wife made a mutual decision for her to have two abortions

Can Not wait until the GA crooks weigh in…
Save that Aluminum foil after cooking your thanksgiving turkey, you can recycle it in to tin foil hats. We may need them in this next legislative (session?)

Notch Johnson

November 16th, 2012
1:31 pm

Glad to see this change in leadership. Shafer, Ronnie and Cecil are good men who will do a good, honest job in Senate Leadership.

Puerile Pedant

November 16th, 2012
1:43 pm

Don’t worry Milton Man, you can always blame Obama or the 100+ years of democratic rule in Georgia that ended in 2002 for ALL the problems in Georgia.

At this rate the GOP will not have any accountability for its (mis-)rule in Gawja until 2020. That should give your governor Deal enough time to make a few million on the side.


November 16th, 2012
1:48 pm

Does anyone here know if Beth Merkel got elected to a new caucus post?

[...] here: Your daily jolt: With new GOP leadership, state Senate rift may be at an end – Atlanta Journal… Share/Bookmark This entry was posted in Elections, Politics and tagged atlanta-journal, [...]


November 16th, 2012
2:33 pm

“Does anyone here know if Beth Merkel got elected to a new caucus post?”

I don’t know about Beth Merkel, but I do know that Beth Merkleson will be absolutely thrilled now that Cecil Staton has been re-elected majority whip.

Ms Merkleson wrote this on her blog before the vote was taken…

”My mother is is completely healed from her surgery, she is now 81 and so full of life. After driving spending a few days last week with my daughter, we both flew to Ohio to see her, she was able to cast her vote for Mitt Romney! As you pray for the Senate and for healing there please add Cecil Stanton to your prayer list. He is a very good man. I am trying, although I feel like a lone voice at times, to get Republicans to wake up and demand that our Senators start acting like Republicans and reject Casey Cagle’s evil power grab. We don’t need one mad power hungry and immoral man in charge of half of the legislative branch of Georgia. God Bless, Beth.”


November 16th, 2012
4:26 pm

i cannot show sympathy,since so many republican whites and hispanics have been so rude to me in central florida and south florida,because barack obama has won,anytime the t.v.shows something aweful about republican white and hispanics and asians its gonna be oh well,they really dispay evil as you walk through the aventura mall in miami,evil as if god has a separate heaven fo them,i got a message for them god see when you treat other races evil,

speak the truth

November 16th, 2012
6:24 pm

LOVE the comparison of the Senate to a trailer park! – truly a bunch of low class trash. Come to think of it that comparison may not be fair to the residents of a trailer park. Chance and Shafer both have plenty of warts. Look to Chance’s hubris to get the better of him with his elevated position and his improper relationships to come to light.


November 16th, 2012
6:26 pm

November 16th, 2012
4:26 pm


Mary Elizabeth

November 16th, 2012
6:27 pm

boib, 12:33 pm

“@MaryElizabeth – Watch online:

Boib, thank you very much for that link. I do hope others will either watch the video, entitled “Park Avenue: Money, Power, and the American Dream,” tomorrow at noon on PBS – Knowledge, Channel 246 on Comcast, or see it online through your link, above.


November 16th, 2012
7:36 pm

P.S. to my 11:41 am post—As I said, the devil is in the details as to what Deal’s purge meant as defined by what he does on things like implementing Obamacare. And this afternoon, Deal made his choice, no state run exchanges. I am surprised only because Deal passed up a chance for lots of graft. Political move only. He is merely throwing some red meat to Teapeople for purging 2 of their own from State Senate leadership. He now has Senators personally beholden to him in control of Senate and he doesn’t have to deal with getting legis. approval for state exchange. He is getting ready for reelection campaign.

As to Fed run exchange, I actually think we will be better off. It will be a lot like Medicare Part D online marketplace which, after a bumpy start, runs pretty damn smoothly now. I have read that Feds have been steadily planning exchanges for last 2 years in anticipation of Ga. and some other states action and they will be ready to go by Oct. 2013. My own view is that the Feds will run more honest and efficient marketplace than Georgia. Does anyone really think the State Insurance Dept. is willing or able to take on such a task?

Mary Elizabeth

November 16th, 2012
8:10 pm

Also, read Hedrick Smith’s book, “Who Stole the American Dream?” to understand the details of why and how the middle class has been so maligned, deliberately and with careful organization, by powerful business interests since the late 1970s.

And read the reviews on Amazon:

“Journalist Hedrick Smith builds a case one piece at a time in his book Who Stole the American Dream? He shows through multiple examples over the past four decades how public policies that favor the rich have decimated the economic strength of average workers and enhanced the power of the wealthy. He shows how the United States has changed from a fairly level society to a plutocracy. This has been a transformation of American society that has important consequences. There are multiple predators that Smith exposes in this book, and he proposes ways in which we can turn this situation around, if we want. Readers interested in public policy should consider this required reading, whether one agrees or disagrees with Smith’s views.”


November 16th, 2012
9:26 pm

Thought I would throw this out…After close review Shady and his cronies could not find a way to line their pockets.

I agree the citizens of GA will be better off if the program is run by the FEDERAL GOVERNMENT vs shady states.

We can be proud of our Governor (term used loosely). Continue to do nothing for the Tax payers.


Wall mart
poppa jerks pizza
Denney s
Darden/Olive Garden
red lobster
Among the many that will and cut employees’ hours in order to keep them from qualifying for health care.

Mary Elizabeth

November 16th, 2012
11:29 pm

Kris, in response to your post at 9:26 pm, I’ll post the following petititon, entitled “Tell WalMart to stop exploiting its workers. I encourage readers to sign the petition.