Political RoundUp: March 2007

Expert advice: House Speaker Glenn Richardson retained the consulting firm headed by economist Arthur Laffer to advise him on alternatives for revising the state’s tax structure. Laffer is best known for his theory of the “Laffer Curve” and was a big favorite of President Ronald Reagan. “Our tax system is burdensome and antiquated, and it’s time to take a look at fixing it,” Richardson said.

The voice is familiar: Gov. Sonny Perdue has appointed country music radio personality Warren “Rhubarb” Jones of Marietta to the board of the Georgia Student Finance Commission. Jones formerly served on the State Board of Technical and Adult Education.

What about the GOP?: Now that Georgia Democrats have decided who will lead their party, attention turns to the Georgia Republican Party, which will elect a chairman to replace Alec Poitevint at the state convention in Gwinnett County in May. Sue Everhart, a longtime GOP activist from Marietta who now serves as first vice chair of the state party, has already made the formal announcement she is in the race. Other rumored candidates include John Watson, a lobbyist and former chief of staff to Gov. Sonny Perdue, and Anthony Scott-Hobbs, chairman of the Cobb County Repub-lican Party.

Saxby looks south: U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, who’ll be running for reelection next year, looked to Atlanta to bolster his Washington staff. Charlie Harman, public affairs director for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia, returned to the beltway to become Chambliss’ chief of staff. After Zell Miller was appointed to the U.S. Senate in July 2000 following the death of Paul Coverdell, Harman helped organize and hire new staffers for Miller’s Washington office. He also served as Miller’s chief of staff during the new senator’s first three months in office.

What about Bob?: Bob Keller was one of the state’s most highly regarded prosecutors during his 24-year tenure as Clayton County’s district attorney, but the county’s changing demographics contributed to his defeat in the 2004 Democratic primary. Gov. Sonny Perdue has tapped Keller’s experience and expertise by appointing him to the State Board of Pardons and Paroles, replacing former state senator Eugene Walker, whose term expired.

Baker’s in command: The chairmanship of the Public Service Commission, which rotates among the five members on a yearly basis, is being held by Commissioner Bobby Baker this year. It marks the fourth time that Baker has chaired the regulatory agency (he previously served as the group chairman in 1994, 1998 and 2003). Newly elected Commissioner Chuck Eaton will serve as vice-chairman.

Bashing Mack: During the first week of the General Assembly, House Speaker Glenn Richardson reminded everyone that the speaker has a lot of power to hurt people. Richardson and the House leadership came down especially hard on Rep. Mack Crawford (R-Concord), a moderate Republican from West Georgia. Crawford chaired the Appropriations Com-mittee’s subcommittee on judicial agencies last session, but was stripped of the chairmanship and evicted from his second floor capitol office (whereupon he was banished to new digs in the Legislative Office Building across the street). Crawford’s transgression? He didn’t pay the monetary assessment to Richardson’s political fund that is expected of each committee chairman – a sum of $70,000.

Climbing aboard the “Straight Talk Express”: State Republican Party Chairman Alec Poitevint will be one of the “Southern Co-Chairs” for the presidential campaign committee of Arizona Sen. John McCain. “Senator McCain clearly has the track record and experience to lead our nation and he will energize the Republican Party,” Poitevint said. “The senator’s commitment to common sense conservatism coupled with his unwavering dedication to winning the war on terror ensures we will have the right leader at the right time.”

Help for the governor: Gov. Sonny Perdue named Rep. Jim Cole (R-Forsyth) as his new assistant administration floor leader in the House, replacing Rep. Jay Roberts (R-Ocilla), the new chairman of the House Republican caucus. Cole joins a floor leaders’ team that includes Rep. Vance Smith (R-Pine Mountain) and Rep. Rich Golick (R-Smyrna).

Joining Eaves: Darryl Hicks, a businessman and lobbyist who ran unsuccessfully for secretary of state last year, is now chief of staff to Fulton County Commission Chairman John Eaves. Hicks made the Democratic runoff for SOS but lost to state Rep. Gail Buckner.

Categories: Political Notes