A Christmas miracle marks the end of a tumultuous era

Note to readers: This marks my last post of 2012 — I’ll be on vacation the rest of the year. My AJC colleague Daniel Malloy in Washington, dmalloy@ajc.com, has graciously agreed to take on blogging duties and keep you informed as we stray ever closer to that fiscal cliff. Best holiday wishes to all.

Much has been written about the sudden departure of Chip Rogers for a custom-made job with Georgia Public Broadcasting, four weeks after his re-election to the Legislature and three weeks after he was forced to withdraw his bid for a second term as state Senate majority leader.

Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers, left, cracks a smile as he talks with Sen. Ronnie Chance, R-Tyrone, right, during last session’s debate on the proposed constitutional amendment on charter schools. Chance will replace Rogers as majority leader next year. Jason Getz, jgetz@ajc.com

Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers, left, cracks a smile as he talks with Sen. Ronnie Chance, R-Tyrone, right, during last session’s debate on the proposed constitutional amendment on charter schools. Chance will replace Rogers as majority leader next year. Jason Getz, jgetz@ajc.com

But too heavy a focus on Rogers detracts from the larger development: The return of Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle as a figure of consequence in the state Capitol and the rise of two new Senate Republican leaders — David Shafer of Duluth and Ronnie Chance of Tyrone — dedicated to ending a two-year battle for control of one half of the General Assembly.

“When I was seeking votes for president pro tem, I told my caucus members that I wanted to end the infighting that has plagued this chamber for the last two years and find a way to work constructively with the lieutenant governor,” said Shafer, a 47-year-old investor and businessman who in January will become the No. 1 ranking senator.

Shafer replaces Tommie Williams of Lyons, who had decided not to seek another term. Chance, who has served as Gov. Nathan Deal’s floor leader, will become majority leader — and replace Rogers.

Rogers’ exit and the rise of the Shafer-Chance team are two sides of the same coin.

Both Rogers and the governor would have us believe that his new job at GPB, reporting to President and Executive Director Teya Ryan, was a happy coincidence. Please feel free to accept this if you like. It’s the season for Hallmark-style miracles.

State Sen. David Shafer, R-Duluth, the future president pro tem in the chamber. AJC file

State Sen. David Shafer, R-Duluth, the future president pro tem in the chamber. AJC file

We do not yet know what Rogers will be paid. Whatever his salary, the governor is apparently satisfied that it’s worth the removal of the Woodstock lawmaker from the dysfunctional hothouse that has been the state Senate.

Rogers is the fellow — a media-savvy tea party favorite — who jumped up as the face of opposition to this summer’s transportation sales tax referendum. It’s altogether possible that Deal didn’t want the same thing to happen next year, when the Legislature takes up Medicaid and the all-important extension of the so-called “bed tax.” Failure would open up a $300 million-plus hole in the state budget.

Removing Rogers from the scene also emphasizes the end of a brief, tumultuous era in the Capitol.

In 2010, on the heels of Cagle’s first re-election bid, a band of Senate Republicans, led by Rogers and Williams, led a revolt that stripped the lieutenant governor of much of his vast authority over the Senate — in particular, his power to appoint committee chairmen and thus control the flow of legislation.

Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle on election night in November. He’s kept a low profile while negotiating his return to influence in the Capitol. Jason Getz, jgetz@ajc.com

Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle on election night in November. He’s kept a low profile while negotiating his return to influence in the Capitol. Jason Getz, jgetz@ajc.com

While the state constitution names the lieutenant governor as president of the Senate, GOP senators demanded authority over their own chamber. But the result of the coup, consummated on the campus of Mercer University in Macon, was something close to chaos.

Big issues became impossible to address. Neither the governor nor House Speaker David Ralston knew who was in charge of the Senate — and thus, who to negotiate with. But until November, efforts to end what Ralston called the “little experiment” had been futile.

This weekend, at a conference for state lawmakers in Athens, Senate Republicans are expected to approve a new power-sharing relationship with Cagle — who has deferred all comment until the arrangement is settled.

“Not even the lieutenant governor is suggesting that we go back to the pre-Macon rules, when that power was vested in the lieutenant governor alone,” Shafer said. “I’m committed to preserving the integrity of the Senate, but I believe that can be done without waging a war of attrition with the lieutenant governor.”

The Capitol is a place where the word “friendship” has many meanings, but Shafer and Cagle have ties that stretch back 20 years. “When I was executive director of the Georgia Republican Party in the early 1990s, I helped recruit [Cagle] to run for the state Senate. When I was elected to the state Senate, he was my seat mate,” Shafer said. “But more important than him being a friend, he is the lieutenant governor of the state. And the constitution provides that he’s president of this body.”

Shafer says that, for now, he has no personal legislative objectives. “My focus is going to be on ending the infighting and developing a good working relationship with [Cagle],” he said.

But the new Senate leader hinted that an unwritten rule of the Republican caucus — that no major legislation would advance without the majority approval of all GOP senators — might be relaxed.

“I want to make sure the process is respected, the rules are followed and issues are decided on their merits,” Shafer said. “I think we’ll allow the committees to work.”

In summation, Shafer uttered a thought that has been forbidden for the past two years. He declared that part of his job is to make sure voters think the lieutenant governor is worth re-electing in 2014. “I don’t believe there’s any way that Casey Cagle can fail and that the Senate Republicans can succeed. I believe that our success is tied up with each other,” Shafer said.

He added that the same goes for the governor, who also stands for re-election in two years.

Which is one more reason why Chip Rogers has suddenly become a crucial part of the public television industry.

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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51 comments Add your comment

Martha Zoller

December 8th, 2012
10:30 am

Have a great vacation, Jim. You deserve it.

Mark B

December 8th, 2012
10:55 am

echo Martha, Jim. Have a great vacation, and thank you a very informative blog….

Rabbit

December 8th, 2012
10:55 am

Your analysis is sound, but stay tuned. There has to be more.

Rabbit

December 8th, 2012
10:57 am

Leaving town? Grab some fiction. Grisham’s new book is a page turner.

Real Athens

December 8th, 2012
11:25 am

Where is the disgust in Nathan Deal’s actions (here and with previous appointments)? It is rank cronyism at it’s absolute worst. I know this has happened time immemorial in GA politics, but when are we going to get the state moving forward? It’s certainly been moving backward in the last 10 years.

Tom mitchell

December 8th, 2012
12:01 pm

So what happens to Sen. Balfour?

Kris

December 8th, 2012
12:55 pm

Have a good vacation Jim.

Another dirty deal for the citizens….

“”" the governor is apparently satisfied that it’s worth the removal of the Woodstock lawmaker from the dysfunctional hothouse that has been the state Senate.”"”

First of all when is SHADY deal going to remove himself from his dysfunctional office?

What can I do to get the governor (loosely used term ) to create a good paying do nothing Job for me?

Will the last Democrat in Georgia please turn off the lights?.....

December 8th, 2012
12:56 pm

{{”Note to readers: This marks my last post of 2012 — I’ll be on vacation the rest of the year.”}}

Mr. Galloway, Happy Holidays. Have a MERRY CHRISTMAS, Best Wishes for a Happy New Year to you and your family and friends and have a great vacation.

Will Jones - Atlanta Jeffersonian Exegesis

December 8th, 2012
1:12 pm

“Forward” to what? Georgia is already the best state of the Fifty.

Any around here who lie and say otherwise is welcome to head out.

Will the last Democrat in Georgia please turn off the lights?.....

December 8th, 2012
1:17 pm

As for the alleged removal of Chip Rogers from the State Senate.

There are many of those who disagree with the way that it was allegedly handled by the Governor, but no one can question that the removal of Chip Rogers was something that absolutely needed to be done, one way or the other.

Removing the troublesome Chip Rogers from the State Senate by basically appointing him to a make-work position at GPB may not have been the most desirable way for that situation to be handled for many.

But there was absolutely no question that with his increasingly strange behavior as a self-appointed leader within the Georgia Senate, that Rogers was the source of a great deal of the increased dysfunction that has been occurring within a Georgia Legislature that was already well-known its for intense dysfunction and choatic atmosphere over the past two years.

honested

December 8th, 2012
1:30 pm

Does this mean that soon we Georgia Citizens will get OUR Government back?

td

December 8th, 2012
1:44 pm

honested

December 8th, 2012
1:30 pm

Does this mean that soon we Georgia Citizens will get OUR Government back?

There is nothing wrong with OUR government now in this state. They are doing everything I elected them to accomplish.

Poltico

December 8th, 2012
1:52 pm

td

been to Bookman’s lately

:-)

MiltonMan

December 8th, 2012
2:00 pm

…and the democrats do not have a dog in the fight because the candidates they elect at the state office are about worth as much as a pound of beetle dung.

Poltico

December 8th, 2012
2:02 pm

Milton Boy

you sure like to cry on these AJC blogs

GaBlue

December 8th, 2012
2:28 pm

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, Mr. Galloway!

Cherokee

December 8th, 2012
2:32 pm

“There is nothing wrong with OUR government now in this state. They are doing everything I elected them to accomplish.”

Last in graduation rates. Worst transportation. Worst foreclosure rate. Worst poverty rate. I could go on, but perhaps, td, we need to ask for your recommendation, then vote the opposite.

Look before I leap...

December 8th, 2012
2:32 pm

Merry Christmas Jim and safe travels.

GaBlue

December 8th, 2012
2:34 pm

MiltonMan (at 2:00) would like to contrast the Democratic “beetle dung” state officials with the bang-up job the Republicans have done with their one-party totalitarian rule for the last decade.

They’re super proud of the current unemployment rate, gradation rates, home foreclosure rates, business bankruptcy rates, number of uninsured citizens, and the massive amount of federal funds the state receives every year just to survive. And boy howdy did they ever show us the meaning of “ethics,” am I right? Super proud.

Patrick Thompson

December 8th, 2012
4:02 pm

Tis the season where Tea Party candidates and reps are finding their true calling as lobbyists – the money is much better, they answer to no one, and they don’t need ethics. Chip leaves Georgia at the top of the categories you don’t want to be in and at the bottom of the categories you need to be in to properly serve citizens and to attract/keep business.

Weetamoe

December 8th, 2012
4:03 pm

I agree with Blue about the deplorable state of public schools, and the employment situation is pretty rough if one is not a government employee, teacher, or professional, but the other problems are the fault of the individuals affected, not any particular political party.

Weetamoe

December 8th, 2012
4:14 pm

I agree with Blue that most of the public schools are a disgrace and that the unemployment situation is pretty bad if you are not a government employee, teacher, or professional, but most of the other problems are the fault of the individuals, not any one political party.

double

December 8th, 2012
4:22 pm

Deal deals,so don’t get in his way.

Ministry of Truth

December 8th, 2012
5:09 pm

Merry Christmas Jim!

Hopefully Santa will be as good to you as he was to the State Senate.

WAW

December 8th, 2012
5:33 pm

Enjoy your vacation, we’ll miss you. Merry Christmas!

hiram

December 8th, 2012
6:13 pm

What about Mr. Rogers’ partner in crime, Graves? Are we stuck with him?

clem

December 8th, 2012
6:24 pm

some of you need to lay off the eggnog

Taxi Smith

December 8th, 2012
7:55 pm

The people of Georgia are ill served by this group of buffoons.

Paddy O

December 8th, 2012
10:36 pm

chip rogers was paid to ride off into the sunset as quietly as possible. his power play came up snake eyes. adios, bud.

Paddy O

December 8th, 2012
10:36 pm

Is Hiram in Gingrey’s district or Graves’?

Paddy O

December 8th, 2012
10:38 pm

GA blue – most of the things you gripe about are things individuals control. in GA, it is caveat emptor and stupid sink.

Paddy O

December 8th, 2012
10:41 pm

real athens – how has the state gone backwards? we have some profound idiots at the State BOE – who think testing non-college bound kids under SAT is wise – but it simply lowers your numbers. PLus, the curriculum is apparently in a state of constant flux. But, our budget is fairly well balanced. All you democrats out there still happy about changing the state flag and being relegated to irrelevency? Stupid, pointless actions have repercussions.

Eli

December 8th, 2012
11:32 pm

Since everyone is at it with the greetings, I would like to wish Jim and all of you a Happy Hanukkah and a safe and wondrous Winter Solstice.

Will the last Democrat in Georgia please turn off the lights?.....

December 8th, 2012
11:44 pm

Paddy O

December 8th, 2012
10:36 pm

{{”Is Hiram in Gingrey’s district or Graves’?”}}

Hiram and all of Paulding County is in Gingrey’s Congressional District.
http://gingrey.house.gov/district/map.htm

Look before I leap...

December 9th, 2012
1:23 am

Happy Kwanzaa everbuddy!

Silent Jay

December 9th, 2012
2:10 am

I thought you were leaving to spend more time with Chip Rogers’ family.

Paddy O

December 9th, 2012
3:07 am

last demo – thank you! that is what I thought. I’m stuck with Graves. So, once I retire, i’ll have to try to unseat him.

Paddy O

December 9th, 2012
3:08 am

I’d like to see republican extend the no sales tax on energy to citizens, not just manufacturing companies. that would be real nice.

MiltonMan

December 9th, 2012
7:52 am

“They’re super proud of the current unemployment rate, gradation rates, home foreclosure rates, business bankruptcy rates, number of uninsured citizens, and the massive amount of federal funds the state receives every year just to survive. And boy howdy did they ever show us the meaning of “ethics,” am I right? Super proud.”

…and how was this better under 130+ years of democratic control?

This is Mrs. Norman Maine

December 9th, 2012
7:52 am

Enjoy your vacation!

nathan's political arsonist

December 9th, 2012
7:56 am

just a matter of time before we shed the rest of these egotistical paranoid out of touch sociopathic wing nuts. We will all have a Better Georgia as diversity replaces racism in the deep south.

ljhays

December 9th, 2012
8:33 am

A sad year-end reminder that “our” Republicans are simply junior versions of their do-nothing brothers and sisters in Washington, so devoted to their ideologies and personal power trips that they’re willing to toss their wider constituencies into the hand basket headed to hell. There will come a time–hopefully sooner rather than later–that all of their redistricting maneuvers will be unable overcome the reality of the changing composition of the electorate. Tick tock, tick tock.

JD

December 9th, 2012
8:55 am

ljhays,

…waiting for the change in demographics will be too long. On top of that, there is no guarantee that it would be enough. Afterall, the GAGOP has proven that it is willing to resort to authoritarian measures just to keep us undesirables from living I the state.

First they banned equal rights for gays. Since then they have create Gestapo like law enforcement measures to check our papers if we do not have the right color skin or speak with a different accent. When they redefine rape it will scare real woken away.

My point is that the GAGOP will not let demographics change against them.

An observer

December 9th, 2012
9:36 am

Let’s see, the agenda for the upcoming session consists of wasting money on a new stadium for the Falcons, and renewing the bed tax. That should not be too difficult so the session will govery smoothly.

td

December 9th, 2012
9:44 am

Will the last Democrat in Georgia please turn off the lights?…..

December 8th, 2012
11:44 pm

Paddy O

December 8th, 2012
10:36 pm

{{”Is Hiram in Gingrey’s district or Graves’?”}}

Hiram and all of Paulding County is in Gingrey’s Congressional District.
http://gingrey.house.gov/district/map.htm

You are wrong my friend. Graves now represents Paulding county and most of NW GA. Gingrey now represents Cobb and Bartow county.

td

December 9th, 2012
9:53 am

D

December 9th, 2012
8:55 am

ljhays,

“First they banned equal rights for gays”

Who is they? Do you mean the Religious African Americans and Religious Hispanics that voted overwhelmingly in GA and 29 other states (including CA) to Constitutional Amendments that say marriage shall be defined as only between a man and a woman? .

ken fuller

December 9th, 2012
10:10 am

What an embarrassment !!! A national poll recently declared The Georgia Legislature , I once proudly served, as the 5th worst legislature in the USA. Why not, when we have a Governor and his Republican cronies who , when confronted with declining revenues, decide to cut first EDUCATION? Georgia’s prison budget is the nations highest.We willingly spend more money on each prisoner every day than on the education of any of our children on the same day. Preposterous and shameful. Small minded men make small minded Governors and legislators.

Eli

December 9th, 2012
10:14 am

By “they” I, of course, mean the GOP…who put those amendments on the agenda in the first place.

There is no denying the facts here. Split hairs however you like about who voted in favor of what, the GAGOP has an iron grip on political control in our state and they put those measures on the ballot. Ultimately the heart of the matter comes down to a complete disregard for human dignity and a subversion of the 1st Amendment Establishment Clause. There is no secular legislative intent for denying civil rights to gays other than hate. ‘God’ has no place in the creation and justification of law in the US.

Regardless of how hispanics and african americans voted on gay rights measures, it is becoming more and more clear to those communities that conservatism is largely inseparable from attempts to establish a WASP state. Overwhelmingly Hispanics and Blacks voted to reelect the president and both communities are significantly moderating on gay rights and abortion. They understand the fight they still must face and African Americans are keenly aware that the progressive community is the reason why they have achieved political equality. Conservatives opposed the abolition of slavery, conservatives opposed women’s suffrage, conservatives opposed the expansion of civil rights for blacks, conservatives opposed the freedom of thought and conscience with their communist witch-hunts, and now conservatives treat Hispanics with the same second-class human status they have always treated non-WASPs (the mere fact that conservatives refer to many immigrants as ‘illegals’ is testament to this fact…you people do not call child-rapists and murderers illegals, but as soon as a child is brought here by parents seeking the American dream without documentation you and your FoxNews ilk do not hesitate to call them ‘illegals.’)

Eli

December 9th, 2012
10:14 am

oh yeah, a happy winter solstice to you td.

Michele

December 9th, 2012
10:59 am

All the best to Casey Cagle, a true statesman {something that has been sorely lacking in Georgia politics while the tea Party was ruining the country}.