It’s a nasty political fight with no-holds barred and kicking, biting, gouging and low blows galore – and no Democrats are involved. It’s the battle for control of the Georgia Senate. Following the national example, Georgia Republicans formed a circular firing squad last year and commenced firing and never slackened until the session was over.
The past few peaceful months for the combatants have been spent re-loading and apparently preparing for further embarrassment in 2012. One indicator is that the sales of red rubber noses, big floppy shoes and frizzy orange wigs have skyrocketed. When the Georgia Senate convenes with Lt. Governor Cagle as its nominal head, the appropriate theme music will be Send in the Clowns.
The only thing protecting Cagle and various Georgia Senators is the relative lack of attention paid by Georgia citizens and the fact that most Georgians neither know nor care who these people are. If the people of this state stop long enough to study the sorry mess that calls itself a legislative body then all bets are off in the local and state elections.
The Senate will continue to operate under a leadership structure implemented last session that forces Cagle to share power with other GOP leaders, but Cagle maintains that he is still head of the chamber.
My friend and colleague Travis Bowden, Chairman of the Republican Liberty Caucus of Georgia, has written an op-ed about the office of lieutenant governor and the role it plays:
At last month’s 7th Congressional District Convention, a resolution was proposed that would demote the Lieutenant Governor of Georgia by stripping him of the title of President of the Senate. I respectfully disagree with this plan and the ideas behind it.
If the Lieutenant Governor were to be demoted in such a way, then the constitution would be needlessly violated. The resolution brought up at the convention says that the Lieutenant Governor is a member of Georgia’s Executive Branch, and therefore he should not be able to govern any part of Georgia’s Legislative Branch, in this case, the Georgia State Senate.
The Savannah Morning News has posted this editorial, noting their displeasure that a project that is often cited by members of both political parties as the most important economic development project in Georgia is possibly being used for leverage in the fight for control of the Senate:
Mr. Cagle has no legitimate reason to strip away the $104 million that the state has advanced for port deepening. It’s too important.
The state-owned port in Savannah helps support nearly 300,000 jobs statewide and contributes nearly $15 billion in income and $2.8 billion in state and local taxes. For any statewide politician to put personal ambition over the economic health of fellow Georgians isn’t just the height of selfishness. It’s political suicide. Anyone who suggested it couldn’t get elected dog catcher.
That said, Mr. Carter doesn’t have the reputation of telling fibs. When he says that Mr. Cagle told him last Thursday that we was going to need the lieutenant governor’s support to keep port deepening in the budget, he can’t be brushed off as a teller of tall tales.
Thus neither man should be branded a liar. Instead, chalk up this incident as fallout from increasing tension in the GOP-controlled Senate. It had stripped Mr. Cagle, a fellow Republican re-elected last November, of much of his power before the session started. It gave most of the control to an eight-member GOP caucus chaired by State Sen. Tommie Williams, R-Lyons.
Late Monday morning, as the Senate was about to convene, a housekeeping measure was introduced for unanimous consent. Included in the legislation was a slight modification of the Senate rules.
It would have made Senate President pro tem Tommie Williams, R-Lyons, automatic chairman of the chamber’s Committee on Administrative Affairs, which holds the Senate’s purse strings. Right now, the chamber’s fiscal affairs are controlled by Cagle.
The language would also have allowed Williams to deal directly with House Speaker David Ralston on certain matters. The formation of some committees – we’re not sure whether conference committees were included.
In essence, it was an attempt to complete the coup against Cagle that was launched in November.
Cagle’s people caught the language. Word quickly spread, and the matter was withdrawn – though discussion continued. Apparently many people were taken by surprise, including some members of the ruling Committee of Assignments – all of whom met with the lieutenant governor at 2 p.m.
Expletives were uttered by people who usually don’t.
Part of what I’m hearing about all this is that conservatives in the Senate want to make marginalize Cagle because they don’t view him as a someone that shares their principles. It’s a point well taken, but there is a lot of inconsistency there. Voters don’t care about the inside baseball that we write about here on a nearly day-to-day basis. Georgia Republicans have benefited from national discontent and a completely dysfunctional state Democratic Party and now have significant advantages in both chambers of the General Assembly. But what they are going to hear about this on the news is going to make Cagle look like the victim, while Senate leadership continues to defend a state senator, who happens chair the Senate Banking Committee, that is currently being sued for gross negligence for his role in a failed bank.
I’m not a fan of Cagle, but you guys have managed to make him look like a brilliant politician.
Whether planning a Super Bowl or swearing in a Governor, there is a certain element of risk planning an event in Atlanta in January. Despite much hard work by Governor Deal’s Inaugural committee, most activities were canceled, and the official ceremony to swear in the Governor was moved inside the House chamber from the capitol steps.
Presiding over this House is David Ralston, Republican from Blue Ridge Georgia, a man who was not supposed to be Speaker. A little over a year ago, it was reported that then Speaker Glenn Richardson had tried a suicide attempt, and a few weeks later, his ex-wife produced documents proving infidelity with a lobbyist. Richardson, who along with a small inner circle, enjoyed house rules that allowed him to stack committees at will, giving him more power over the body than Speaker Murphy had ever dreamed of. Yet his inability to get along with neither Lt. Governor Cagle nor Governor Perdue limited the reach of his power beyond the house, and Senators privately enjoyed the leadership vacuum in the House in the wake of Richardson’s resignation. Even when a new speaker was elected, he had to bring disparate groups together under a new agenda while making needed changes in House rules and operations.
One year later, Speaker Ralston has full control over his body, and with a very successful election and additional Democratic defections, is just a couple votes shy of an outright supermajority – the two-thirds of the body needed to pass Constitutional amendments. Meanwhile, on the other side of the Capitol, Republican Senators are still trying to decide how they will operate their body, with changes to the Senate Rules – updated primarily to take away most of the power of the Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle – still being negotiated up to their final vote yesterday. Read more
It’s fairly clear at this point that Senate Republican Leadership has somewhat of an upper hand in their battle with Lt. Governor Casey Cagle. Cagle’s two appointees to the 8 member “power sharing” committee on assignments have been excluded for all practical purposes. Cagle’s senior staff is currently listed as “to be announced” as his former circle has moved on to greener pastures. Folks are finally starting to remember that despite he hails from the same town as the Governor-elect, it was that same Governor who said in his announcement speech that he could “tie his own shoes.”
Yet, Cagle is not without his supporters. He was elected by one of the highest vote percentages given on the November ballot. He has a statewide fundraising base, and is well liked by local officials, particularly among politically influential sheriffs. His biggest asset in this internal skirmish, however, may well be that he will not be on the ballot in 2012, whereas everyone in the Senate leadership will be. This leaves plenty of room for mischief in the form of counter attacks against those with whom the Lt. Gov is “sharing” power.
Republicans have had a lot to smile about lately, and look for Cheshire grins to be on display in Athens as the epicenter of Georgia government to be in Athens today and tomorrow. The biennial meeting, hosted by UGA’s Carl Vinson Institute, is a meeting held for all legislators and other interested members of GA Government, represents the first time for the newly expanded Republican majorities to meet en masse.
Moving beyond the obvious successes of a statewide constitutional sweep and the resulting parade of party switchers, however, there is still a bit of friction that must be addressed in-house. The Senate leadership and the Lt. Governor are still at war with each other, and bits of this fissure continue to show themselves publicly.
A story was floated again last week, this time landing in the AJC, regarding government affairs work Majority Leader Chip Rogers has done for a “plant based diet” advocacy group. While the work was not done to influence the Georgia legislature, nor when the legislature was in session, someone has been working hard to make sure you know that Chip Rogers has worked for a group that breaks neither state law nor (almost nonexistent) ethics rules, or worse, that he may be a vegetarian.
Nathan Deal has selected his floor leaders in the State Senate, and one of these has committee chairmanship implications.
Senate Finance Chairman Ronnie Chance (R-Tyrone), Bill Jackson (R-Appling), and Jim Butterworth (R-Clarksville) are to be named Floor leaders, the folks that sponsor and move the Governor’s legislation.
The Finance Committee Chair is a significant position, and one not normally occupied by a floor leader for the Governor. As such, Chance is expected to give up this position.
Senate chairmanships, including Chance’s replacement on Finance, are far from certain. Read more
Lori Geary from Channel 2 is reporting that the Senate Republican Caucus has reached an agreement with Lt. Governor Casey Cagle to “share powers.” We’re still waiting on more details as to what exactly that means, so look for an update later.
The proposed change in Senate rules essentially was a referendum on the performance of Governor Casey Cagle, with a failure of Cagle to retain power over his chamber just days after his party swept all statewide offices likely seen as the equivalent of a vote of “no-confidence.”
Cagle spoke to the caucus earlier in the day, in a part of the meeting that was called “testy” by one attendee. Senator Dan Moody, who will not be returning to the Senate next year, followed and made the case why the caucus needs to take some powers away from the Lt. Governor by changing Senate rules.
ATLANTA — A one-time candidate for Georgia governor is aiming a salacious accusation at the current lieutenant governor.
Ray Boyd, a businessman who dropped out of the governor’s race, laid out the complaint to the State Ethics Commission on Friday.
Boyd claims Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle had an affair with a female staffer, then paid her nearly $200,000 in campaign funds — claims Cagle adamantly denies.
A note to our commenters: We have discussed certain rumors surrounding the Lt. Governor here in the past. It is late heading into a weekend prior to a Tuesday election. The timing of this news is bad for both a campaign as well as moderators on blogs. For now, the rules of commenting on this story are this: The names redacted in the above piece shall not be mentioned below. Anyone doing so faces at least a temporary suspension of their posting privileges. Comments should be restricted to the political implications of the story, the fairness/unfairness of the timing, and related matters. Keep it clean and within narrow boundaries. If you have to ask if you should comment on something, you probably shouldn’t.
It should have come as no surprise to regular readers of Peach Pundit that I, along with most other contributors, will not be voting for Incumbent Republican Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle. We’ve dedicated many posts to our problems with the “Light” Gov, and so as to not lose focus on the topic, I will not repeat them here.
But voting against someone does not equate to voting for someone else. There are options for protest votes, and there’s the too often realization that you’re voting for the lesser of two evils. Carol Porter was kind enough to join me for breakfast two weeks ago, which I requested at the urging of some mutual friends. I wanted to learn more about the person who was most likely going to be the recipient of my vote against Cagle. I left with Porter not only receiving my full support, but a small campaign contribution as well.
At the risk of dooming any future she may have in the Democratic party (and in the hopes that one day, she may have one in the Republican party), I’ll start by saying that my assessment is that Mrs. Porter is more conservative than many people the Republicans currently have on the ballot this year. She has a clear understanding that removing the homeowners’ property tax relief grant is in fact a tax increase on property owners. She’s quick to point out that Cagle agreed with her two years ago when he bragged about saving it, but now claims it’s a local government problem since he helped eliminate it. She also cedes no ground on social issues, and in my opinion, could teach the leadership of certain so-con groups a few lessons on manners, decorum, and dignity. Read more
Tonight, Austin Scott debated Jim Marshall at the Georgia National Fairgrounds in Perry. The debate was run well and some interesting questions were asked of the candidates. One particular question was directed at Congressman Marshall. He was asked if he played any role in the call for Austin Scott to unseal his divorce records.
‘Casey Cagle was behind it’ (paraphrase). That’s right, Marshall claimed that Cagle’s staff approached him about Austin’s divorce records and wanted Marshall to use it to his advantage in the race. Marshall claims that he refused, but did say that Cagle has been after Austin since he was rumored to challenge Casey for the Lieutenant Governor’s seat.
Now, I realize that this is a Democrat openly attacking a state Republican official and, therefore, shouldn’t come as a surprise, but we all know that nothing remains a secret in politics for long. I have a feeling the truth will rise to the surface.
In the meantime, I believe Marshall will continue to grasp at straws until the end of this election. He knows he faces a tough challenge in Austin Scott. So, we’ll see if he resorts to further drastic measures that will trump even going after his own Party’s leadership.
It wasn’t that unusual when I got a call from a State Senator last week with whom I hadn’t spoken in a while. We caught up on a lot of things – the conversation drifted all over the place actually – but I do remember a few pointed comments about Fred Cooper and what he’s done for the Republican Party in Georgia. I partially remember because when I got another call a couple of days later from a different person who also steered the conversation to talk about Fred Cooper. Had I been paying closer attention, I probably would have connected the dots a bit quicker. Especially had I noted the missed calls from other Senators this weekend.
When I started getting calls yesterday about Fred Cooper, the subtly was gone, the news was being openly discussed, and the charge was direct. Lt. Governor Casey Cagle had altered a document from the Governor listing his appointments which needed to be ratified by the Senate. In doing so, the Senators and others under the Gold Dome feel that Casey Cagle has violated the decorum of his office, the rules of the Senate, and possibly Georgia Law. Read more
Most people on here have heard the rumor stirring that Austin Scott will qualify to run against Lt. Governor Casey Cagle in the primary this week. We all know that Cagle is not popular here and that many legislators, lobbyists, and creatures of the Gold Dome talk and whisper about the details that happened once Casey took office. The entire thing has mounted into a movement of anti-Cagle and Austin Scott seems to be the one that people are pushing as the “White Knight” who will bring about the defeat of the evil “Black Knight” that is Cagle.
Well I have just one problem with this sentiment.
Don’t get me wrong, being against Cagle on principle and wanting him gone is fine, BUT don’t let that overshadow what Georgia finally has in Austin Scott…a candidate who can actually make Georgia better. I sat down to write this out because the growing discontent with Cagle seems to be mounting into nothing more than an “oust the incumbent!” movement rather than a move for true reform. Read more