Political RoundUp: May 2008

Gingrey’s in?: Cobb County Congressman Phil Gingrey is now rumored to be planning a run for the U.S. Senate in 2010, assuming Johnny Isakson does indeed decide to leave the Senate to run for governor. If true, that could set up quite a battle between Gingrey and Gov. Sonny Perdue, who once served with Gingrey as a member of the state Senate.

New roles at DCH: Community Health Commissioner Rhonda Med-ows named Robert Finlayson III as the department’s inspector general; he oversees investigations of fraud and abuse within Medicaid and other state healthcare programs.

Finlayson has more than 15 years experience in law enforcement and regulatory investigations, working most recently at the state Department of Human Resources as deputy director of the division that investigates fraud in food stamps and TANF benefits. Medows also tapped Clyde Reese, who handles the agency’s certificate of need program, to serve as general counsel.

Green leader: Georgia Conserv-ation Voters has named Chris Osborne its new executive director. He replaces Jason Rooks, who stepped down from the position last fall. Osborne had been a partner in the political fund-raising firm Cun-ningham Harris Osborne and Associ-ates. He has worked in more than 40 political campaigns and was an aide to former U.S. Sen. Max Cleland.

On the TVA: Georgia will have its first representative ever on the board of the Tennessee Valley Authority, now that the U.S. Senate has formally confirmed North Georgia banker Tom Gilliland of Blairsville as a board member. Gilliland is executive vice president of United Com-munity Banks. Before joining the bank holding company, he was a partner at the Atlanta law firm of Hurt, Richardson, Garner, Todd and Cadenhead.

New regent: Gov. Sonny Perdue appointed W.H. “Dink” NeSmith, an Athens newspaper publisher, to the Board of Regents, replacing Patrick Pittard. NeSmith is co-owner and president of Com-munity Newspapers Inc. and is a past president of the Georgia Press Association and the University of Georgia Alumni Association.

Most conservative: National Journal, a Washington-based political publication, says Georgia Congressmen Lynn Westmoreland, Phil Gingrey and John Linder are three of the eight U.S. House members who are ranked as the “most conservative” based on their 2007 votes. The seven Republicans in Georgia’s 13-member House delegation had a combined conservative score of 90 percent, the highest of any state Republican delegation.

Another leadership loss: Two of the university system’s top research institutions are losing longtime leaders this year. Georgia Tech President Wayne Clough has decided to leave the North Avenue campus to take over the reins at the Smithsonian Institution in Washing-ton, DC. Clough’s downtown neighbor, Georgia State University Pres-ident Carl Patton, has announced his retirement.

Changes at South Georgia: Torri Lilly is stepping down as president of South Georgia College in Douglas for an administrative posting at the University System’s central office. Lilly’s temporary replacement as president is Virginia Carson, who had been vice president for academic affairs at Georgia Highlands College in Rome.

Carson earlier was dean of academic services for Georgia Perimeter College in Clarkston.

In passing: Noah N. Langdale, president of Georgia State from 1957 to 1988, passed away in February at the age of 87.

Langdale oversaw GSU’s transformation from primarily a night school with 5,200 students to a major university with an enrollment of more than 22,000.

Goodbye and good luck: Several veteran legislators have decided they won’t return to the General Assembly. Rep. Bob Holmes (D-Atlanta), Rep. Ben Bridges (R-Cleveland) and Rep. Jimmy Lord (D-Sandersville) are stepping down. Rep. Johnny Floyd (R-Cordele) is moving to a seat on the State Transportation Board. Sen. Michael Meyer von Bremen (D-Albany) will run for the Georgia Court of Appeals.

Raising the bench: The General Assembly passed a bill to raise the state pay of Supreme Court justices from $162,339 to $175,571, of Appeals Court judges from $161,346 to $174,495, and of Superior Court judges from $116,749 to $126,265 (not including local supplements).

Categories: Political Notes