Archive for the ‘David Ralston’ Category

Your daily jolt: If Saxby Chambliss is frustrated with Washington, what do his BFFs think?

Neither the transcript nor the video is available as I write this, but on NBC’s “Hardball with Chris Matthews” on Sunday, Chuck Todd noted one of the many implications of U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss’ decision not to run for a third term.

One of Chambliss’ best friends in Washington, Todd noted, is House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio. If Chambliss is frustrated enough to abandon Washington, Boehner may be, too.

There’s another leg to that stool. Chambliss’ other BFF in Washington is U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson. The two have been together since their halcyon days at the University of Georgia in Athens. (Where Chambliss will appear today with U.S. Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va.)

Isakson has already declared himself a certainty to run for re-election in 2016. “Absolutely,” said one aide last night. But the man who will soon become Georgia’s senior senator has also just been named to the Senate Finance Committee, which will be at the center of any further negotiations over federal debt, …

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Your daily jolt: Bloody Marys, stogies dropped from Senate lunch menu

By tradition, Coca-Cola has served as the corporate sponsor of a luncheon honoring the president pro tem of the state Senate at the opening of each year’s session.

Also by tradition, the menu has included Bloody Marys and cigars. But no more. We’re told that both alcohol and stogies have been removed from this afternoon’s festivities honoring David Shafer, R-Duluth, the Senate’s newly elected leader.

The reason? The flourishes were thought to clash with the Capitol’s embrace of ethics reform, including a $100 per lawmaker cap on gifts from lobbyists passed by the Senate on Monday.

Or perhaps it was fallout from Coke’s new anti-obesity campaign. Either one.

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Speaking of ethics, here’s the exchange that just took place between House Speaker David Ralston and Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle at this morning’s Eggs & Issues breakfast, sponsored by the Georgia Chamber. My AJC colleague Greg Bluestein said Cagle had just finished bragging about the Senate’s approval of a $100 cap on gifts …

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Why the Atlanta stadium debate remains alive: Location, location, location

The latest Journal-Constitution poll now measures opposition to a new, $1 billion version of the Georgia Dome – and a new home for the Atlanta Falcons, its chief tenant – at 72 percent of all Georgians.

That level of unpopularity shouldn’t shock you. But you might be surprised by the fact that, despite an approval rating only slightly better than that of Congress, the issue will be very much alive when the Legislature opens this week.

State lawmakers will be asked to approve $300 million in public funding, through a hotel-motel tax on visitors to Atlanta. Mayor Kasim Reed remains confident of success. Gov. Nathan Deal and House Speaker David Ralston are less so, but neither has closed the door on the project.

Such a situation is sure to breed cynicism. Politicians doing the bidding of billionaire Falcons-owner Arthur Blank, one jaded voice in your head is saying. Another directs your attention to the much-vaunted friendship between the mayor of Atlanta and the governor.

But …

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Your Daily Jolt: ‘Cool but not icy’ Falcons stadium reaction

After the Georgia World Congress Center Authority approved the outline for a new $1 billion downtown stadium for the Falcons on Monday morning, word spread quickly to Athens, where state legislators are holding their biennial summit. The AJC’s Greg Bluestein was on the scene and he described the reaction as “cool but not icy” as he surveyed lawmakers, who would need to vote to approve raising the GWCCA’s debt limit. From Bluestein:

House Speaker David Ralston said the stadium’s supporters need to make a forceful argument about why the new facility is needed – and he doesn’t think they’ve made that argument quite yet.

“This is more than about the Falcons. And because of that, we have to proceed very carefully,” Ralston said. “It’s a tough economic climate and for the state to undertake any sort of investment, I think we have to move cautiously.”

State Rep. Ed Lindsey, an Atlanta Republican and one of the House’s leading lawmakers, said he has to be convinced the stadium meets …

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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 …

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The power of a name at the center of Medicaid debate

The first step on the road to wisdom, Confucius declared thousands of years ago, is to call a thing by its proper name.

Republicans in Washington have taken the Chinese philosopher’s advice to heart, and are now engaged in a debate over whether an increase in federal revenue can correctly be labeled a tax hike. Anti-tax guru Grover Norquist says yes. U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss says no.

A Georgia version of this name game – no less intense than the one in D.C. — is already percolating. Two-and-a-half years ago, the state Legislature passed what came to be known as “the bed tax” – a levy on Georgia’s hospitals used to leverage federal dollars and prop up the state’s Medicaid program.

It expires next year. Gov. Nathan Deal, House Speaker David Ralston and soon-to-be Senate president pro tem David Shafer all agree that without it, there will be hell to pay.

But a bed tax? They’ve never heard of it. “Medicaid assessment fee,” says Ralston. “Provider fee,” the governor told a …

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Your daily jolt: How Paul Broun and Tom Price might figure in Saxby Chambliss’ future

Hints at the roles that U.S. Reps. Paul Broun of Athens and Tom Price of Roswell might play in U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss’ future surface in a Politico.com piece today:

One Georgia-based GOP consultant [said] he expects the fiercely conservative Broun to launch a Senate campaign as soon as January. A spokeswoman for Broun said he hasn’t decided.

“I feel very confident that Paul Broun’s running for U.S. Senate,” said Republican strategist Joel McElhannon, who is already feeling out recruits to run in Broun’s Athens-based 10th District. “You have senior staff quietly calling around for jobs, that’s why I think it’s legitimate.”

…But [state GOP chairman Sue] Everhart said Price poses the biggest threat to Chambliss.

“Tom told me a good while back that he wouldn’t run against Saxby if Saxby ran again. But he said if a whole bunch of people jumped in, that he would think about it,” Everhart said in an interview. “Saxby would have his work cut out against him against Price, that’s …

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A Q&A with Speaker David Ralston on ‘personhood,’ immigration, a new Georgia Dome and hospitals

House Speaker David Ralston recently sat down to discuss the November elections and their impact on the next session of the state Legislature, which begins in January.

Ralston predicted that Republican re-engagement on immigration reform in Washington would forestall further state legislation on the issue. He also suggested that a “personhood” amendment to the state constitution was unlikely to fly and said he has urged state lawmakers to think coolly and calmly about two hot issues: a new stadium that would serve as home to the Atlanta Falcons and renewal of an “assessment fee” on hospitals to help prop up the state Medicaid program.

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House Speaker David Ralston greets supporters of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan during the election night party for the 2012 U.S. presidential election results at the Grand Hyatt Buckhead. Jason Getz/jgetz@ajc.com

Some excerpts from our conversation:

Q: So what’s your verdict on the 2012 campaigns?

A: I think the November elections were a mixed bag. …

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House Democrats shake up their leadership team

This time, they chose a chamber suited to their numbers.

After the 2010 election, Democratic members of the House gathered in their huge chamber, dwarfed by a space that emphasized their shrinking numbers.

On Monday, they gathered in the room at the state Capitol used by the 56-member state Senate. The 59-member House caucus filled the room quite snugly.

The occasion was the election of officers for the caucus, which two years ago was also a debacle. Shortly after being elected chairman of the Democratic caucus, state Rep. Doug McKillip of Athens switched parties and declared himself a Republican. (He was defeated in this summer’s GOP primary.)

There was the odd reference to the fleeing of white lawmakers to GOP trenches. “I’ll never leave this ship,” declared Scott Holcomb of Atlanta, who just survived a tough Republican challenge and was a candidate for chief deputy whip.

But the big surprise was a challenge to the House Democratic leadership team. Minority Leader Stacey …

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Your morning jolt: Before the vote, a Democrat says he’ll turn GOP

No matter what happens on Nov. 6, Democrats will be at least one seat down in the state House.

State Rep. Rick Crawford of Cedartown, one of the few remaining conservative Democrats in the Legislature, says he intends to switch to the GOP – if he survives the general election.

House Speaker David Ralston doesn’t think he will. Crawford faces a tough race in a newly redrawn west Georgia district that has a Democratic performance rating of 27 percent. Crawford’s Republican opponent is Trey Kelley, a 25-year-old manufacturer’s rep.

“I am fully committed to making sure Trey Kelley is elected to the House. He is an outstanding candidate who is working hard and is consistent,” Ralston said this morning. “While I respect Rick Crawford and appreciate his dilemma, the truth is that the [Democratic] Party didn’t just suddenly become liberal. It has been, is, and will continue to be a party that is far to the left of the great majority of Georgians.”

Jim Walls and Atlanta Unfiltered …

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