Quote of the Day: the Tom Murphy edition

Earlier this week, the AJC ran another article in their series “Whatever happened to” about the longest serving Speaker in any state legislature in our nation’s history, Thomas B. Murphy.

When the Murphy article first ran, I gave thought to posting something here asking people to comment on their favorite memory of Tom Murphy while he was Speaker of the Georgia House, but I didn’t. Before posting this blog entry, I wanted to do a little research and hopefully come up with a quote that I felt epitomized that legendary Tom Murphy wit; you know, something to the effect of the story I heard about Speaker Murphy responding to a Republican state legislator who made a parliamentary inquiry about the rules of House, to which Murphy responded, “I’m not sure about the rules of the House, but this is how we do things here.”

Lo and behold, through my research, I came across a program that aired on Georgia Public Broadcasting about 5 years ago. The program was called “Speaker of the House: The Thomas B. Murphy Story”. Near the end of that program, there was a clip of Speaker Murphy posing this question to Rep. Earl Ehrhart:

“When y’all gone get someone in y’alls party that knows something about the law? Will you find somebody Earl?

That one line had me in stitches, and I thought it was worthy of being recognized as a quote of the day.


  1. Doug Deal says:

    Tom Murphy was the poster child for term limits.

    The Tom Murphy’s of the world are THE problem with government. His losing as a sitting speaker to a reletively unknown Repubican was a wonder thing.

  2. RobertC says:

    That guy was a real powerhouse. Say what you will but he makes sonny, casey, and glenn look like rank amateurs.

    He may have abused his power but he knew how to use it. These guys couldn’t even hold his jock strap.

  3. Bobby Kahn says:

    Speaker Murphy never advocated term limits, but the voters did, for better or worse. I say for worse. Either way, Jack Kingston, John Linder and Nathan Deal did advocate term limits. And yet, they are still there, beyond the length of the limits they supported.

  4. Doug Deal says:


    Because that’s what we want in a republic, politicians who “abuse power” as long as they “know how to use it.”

    I used to be against term limits, but it’s time to revisit the issue. No one man is so valuable that the country will be harmed by his absense in Congress or the legislature for one term. However, one man in office for decades can cause great damage.

  5. Shakin the bush boss says:

    During much of Murphy’s rein, the Georgia legislature was dominated by rural white Democrats who had a Talmadge view of Atlanta. To Murphy’s credit he recognized that a vibrant Atlanta economy was key to the state, and as a result many of the infrastructure improvements that many enjoy in the metro area are because he had a “bigger” view than many of his fellow rural legislators. I think history, when party loyalty glasses are removed, will view him just fine.

  6. joe says:


    I live in an Atlanta suburb. Are you saying that the main reason this whole area sucks is Murphy’s vision?

  7. eehrhart says:

    I remember the exchange well. Speaker Murphy was formidable man. A brilliant opponent and someone from whom I learned many painful lessons.
    I read the article with great sadness as I truly wish the Speaker could have enjoyed his spring trainings and his fishing and his beloved family. What a tragedy that he is not able to.
    I do pray for his finding peace and satisfaction in his retirement. He EARNED it!

  8. Trackboy1 says:

    Tom Murphy’s legacy is seat belts not being required in pickups in Georgia.

    Loses the state fed transportation dollars.
    And it has lost lives in this state. Period.

  9. atlantaman says:

    The man serves as House Speaker for 27 years and the only thing many Georgians remember, if they remember anything, is his opposition to a seat-belt law for pick-up trucks. If that doesn’t speak to our simplistic, AJC regurgutated knowledge of the Legislature I don’t know what does.

    If any lives were lost due to not wearing seatbelts in pick-up trucks it’s not because of Tom Murphy, it’s due to the stubborn drivers and passengers of the trucks. Law or now law; we’ve all been thoroughly educated on the safety advantages of seatbelts and anyone harmed by not wearing a seatbelt has only themself to blame. We’ve got to learn to take a little personal responsiblity.

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