Political Notes: January 2013
New PSC Chair: Commissioner Chuck Eaton is the 2013-14 chairman of the Georgia Public Service Com-mission, selected by his fellow commissioners. In November he won his second six-year term, defeating Democrat Stephen Oppenheimer. A law passed in 2012 changed the chairman’s term from one to two years.
Special Meeting: Secretary of State Brian Kemp has set Jan. 30 as the date of a special meeting of the State Election Board to address Fulton County “issues and irregularities during the 2012 election cycle.”
Among those issues and irregularities: the resignation of the former county elections director following his arrest for a probation violation related to a 2009 DUI arrest; the county’s missed deadlines for certifying July primary results and a surfeit of provisional ballots cast in the November general elections.
Kennedy Award Winner: Georgia House of Representatives Minority Leader Stacey Abrams, D-Atlanta, was honored with a John F. Kennedy New Frontier Award in a ceremony at the Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.
The late president’s daughter, Caroline Kennedy, president of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation, presented the award. “Stacey Abrams reminds us that good relationships make for good politics and that compromise is often the most direct path to progress,” said Kennedy.
The New Frontier Awards honor annually two Americans under the age of 40 for their commitment to public service; this marked the ninth presentation and the first time a Georgian has received one of the awards.
Follow The Leaders: Some interesting changes in the Georgia State Senate leadership for 2013 on the Republican side. David Shafer of Duluth is the new President Pro Tem, and Ronnie Chance of Tyrone is the new majority leader. Cecil Stanton of Macon was re-elected majority whip. Judson Hill of Marietta is the new chairman of the Republican caucus; and caucus secretary is Steve Gooch from Dublin.
On the Democratic side of the Senate, Steve Henson of Tucker and Vincent Fort of Atlanta were re-elected Democratic leader and caucus whip, respectively. Horacena Tate is chair of the caucus, Valencia Seay of Riverdale is vice-chair, Gloria Butler of Stone Mountain is vice chair for campaigns and fundraising and Nan Orrock of Atlanta is secretary.
No changes in the top House leadership for the 2013 session, as Repub-licans re-elected Speaker David Ral-ston of Blue Ridge and Speaker Pro Tem Jan Jones of Milton and Demo-crats re-elected Rep. Stacey Abrams as House minority leader.
Also re-elected are Republican Majority Leader Larry O’Neal of Bonaire, Majority Whip Edward Lind-sey of Atlanta, Caucus Chairman Don-na Sheldon of Dacula, Vice Chairman Matt Ramsey of Peachtree City and Secretary Allen Peake of Macon.
On the other side, Virgil Fludd of Tyrone ousted Brian Thomas of Lilburn as chairman of the House Democratic caucus. Re-elected are Minority Whip Carolyn Hugley of Columbus, Chief Deputy Whip Scott Holcomb of Atlanta, caucus Vice Chairman Billy Mitchell of Stone Mountain, Secretary Debbie Buckner of Junction City and Treasurer David Wilkerson of Austell.
Bulloch Departure: Sen. John Bulloch, a Republican farmer from Ochlocknee who was respected by Republicans and Democrats alike, resigned from the Senate last month, where he had served since 2003. He chaired the Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee. He said in a statement that “not very many farmers get chances like this” and that he was grateful for the chance to “play a pivotal role in strengthening Georgia’s ag industry.”
New Twist On Job Creation: Former Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers, a Republican from Woodstock, resigned his senate seat to take a newly created state job at Georgia Public Broadcasting, described by GPB as “creating a new programming initiative designed to facilitate coverage of economic development and jobs in Georgia.” He will host a weekly radio program.
Rogers, who had dropped out of the running for another term as majority leader, called his new gig “an incredible opportunity,” a description few would disagree with.
Lonely Hearts? An ad for a website, RedStateDate.com, offers the opportunity to “Meet Conservative Singles.” Is there a liberal counterpart?