David Ralston’s grassroots campaign for Speaker.

Saturday I spent some time in Elijay Jasper at the 9th District GOP picnic. Among the speakers were Rep. David Ralston, who as you know is challenging Speaker Glenn Richardson. Ralston spoke along the lines described in Jim Galloway’s article here. Ralston is a soft spoken man with a reputation of being very smart politically. His comments Saturday tapped into the frustration many Republicans feel about how things have been going lately. I realize on paper Ralston’s campaign seems Quixotic, but I think it’s way to early to count Ralston out. His grassroots campaign for Speaker just might work.

Last week, Rules Chairman Earl Ehrhart of Powder Springs, Richardson’s closest ally, suggested that the House Republican caucus shift from its tradition of secret ballots and conduct the election for speaker in public — which would have the advantage of exposing any dissidents.

Ask Ralston why he thinks he has a chance, and the north Georgia lawmaker will tell you that the last two attempts to dethrone a House speaker (both aimed at the venerable Tom Murphy) were the result of intra-party squabbles about which voters neither knew nor cared.

But Richardson’s feuds with Gov. Sonny Perdue and Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle have been very public. The broken relationships — unlikely to be repaired, says Ralston — have thwarted action on important issues ranging from transportation to tax relief.

The north Georgia lawmaker also gave voice to frustration privately expressed by many House Republicans — that they had little input into Richardson’s failed campaign to eliminate property taxes in Georgia, which pitted state lawmakers against county, city and school board officials across the state.

That courthouse crowd is his targeted constituency, Ralston implied. Over the next three months, he’ll attempt to stir bottom-up sentiment for regime change in the Capitol that — he hopes — will equal pressure that Richardson will place on 100 or so House Republicans from above.

33 comments

  1. Icarus says:

    I will ask the same question here that I asked of Rep. Ehrhart in another thread:

    Do you favor removing secret ballot voting for union elections?

  2. eehrhart says:

    Nice try Icarus

    I have read many of your posts and I know you have more than enough mental acuity to see the massive distinction between a Private citizen casting a ballot in a private or public workplace which affects their individual job, and a Public official casting a ballot for a public position.

    If you want to make the argument that pressure is applied in either case and it is easier to vote in secret I would agree.

    In the case of the private citizen they should be protected in their workplace from such pressure as they do not seek to become elected by the public.

    In the case of a legislator they should cast all of their votes in public including DOT races.

    I do not buy the argument that elected officials need a shield from pressure to cast a public vote. Even if it is a convenience to those disposed to lie.

    I would hope you would not make such an argument for all of the other votes legislators must cast. I can assure you there is pressure on votes all of the time, from guns, to tax to abortion all carry great pressures. Hey we signed up for the deal we need to do all of our business in the public eye. Period.

  3. mitchmartin says:

    Every time Rep. Ehrhart comments in the paper or posts a comment to this blog, I am reminded of Reggie Ball’s contributions to UGA winning four out of four against Georgia Tech during Ball’s four years. No UGA player contributed as much to those wins as Reggie Ball, even though he played for the opposing team.
    The currency that Rep. Ehrhart and the House leadership deal in is intimidation. Its what they know, and they are very, very good at it. That is why he is crowing for an open vote above, and why we havent heard a peep from them about open votes on DOT board members over the years.
    Folks, this is the exact kind of attitude that some (not most) House members are fed up with. However, with a well-thought out Ralston strategy articulated in the news story above, and the continued threats of open votes and retaliation by House leadership, this thing could be close by January.

  4. Mountain Republican says:

    Republicans in Georgia have a unique opportunity in Georgia to show the nation what it truly means to be a Republican. Just like Washington, however, we are bound to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory with the current House leadership. Certainly not this year, but by 2010, or even worse 2012.

    Unfortunately, since the Speaker came into power, we have been a failure. Last year’s session was embarrassing, and as long as Richardson is in power, it will be personalities over policy every time. If you would have allowed Mark Burkhalter’s name (who basically authored the final legislation originally anyway) to be on the tax reform last year, we wouldn’t be paying the birthday tax right now. Instead, the speaker sold an empty bag of goods across the state without the specific policy to back it up. Then, after the session started, specifics began coming out. If you are going to fundamentally reform our tax structure in Georgia, some one needs to have a clue as to the specifics and the leadership to sell the concept to the voters. In the Georgia House, we had neither.

    Allow Jerry Keen to defend the Governor-let’s watch him do the same as Barry Fleming. when he runs for Governor or US Senator. Watch Mark Burkhalter defend the Speaker and see if he can get elected to a higher office. Talk to Jeff Lewis about being tied to the Speaker outside of the chambers of the Gold Dome. While the Ehrharts of the world may have their power behind closed doors in secret (or open) votes, the Republican grassroots and local elected officals are tiring of the “let them eat cake” mentality.

    While the committee chairs will defend their “power broker”, the Republican base is yearning for the type of leadership that Ralston or several other capable Republicans in the House could provide.

    If the Republican Reps listen to their constituents instead of worried about their private little fiefdoms, our Speaker will be just another Ted Kennedy in the pages of political history.

  5. eehrhart says:

    Dear Mitch,

    Please tell me how anyone is being intimidated. I would really appreciate some facts before your hurl your invective. Please cite one instance of intimidation or threat in this situation.

    If casting a vote is intimidation then you must prefer your elected officials without a backbone?

    As for some, if you are referring to the Ralston five and the fact that they are fed up; I would submit it has little to do with your premise and a great deal to do with ego and ambition.

    If Ralston’s strategy is to connect with the municipal association and their stated goal of leadership change he is more than welcome to sell that for what ever he thinks he can get for it.

    As for an open vote being a threat? Please!

    As for threats I have heard none. David has been a friend for years and I have not said that has changed. I am concerned he no longer is willing to participate in our senior leadership and I am somewhat at a loss because not one time in any meeting of chairman did he ever register even ONE disagreement on any policy.

    As for his claim that the tax plan was not a collaborative effort; this is so off base as to be laughable. The plan changed often and always at the behest of members of our caucus. How this is intimidation I would love to hear. By the way David never once participated in the many open meetings and hearings on the tax plan. I would have thought someone who had such concerns and who aspired to leadership would have at the very least made some presentment with respect to the plan.

    I guess not.

    I have heard not one leader intimidate David and his five friends or threaten them in the least. Please show me any occurrence of such.

    I just find them misguided and wrong which is my prerogative, as it is theirs to say the same about me. We will see in November if they can gain more than five fellow travelers.

    However I do love the Reggie Ball analogy here:

    He had a hard time counting to five also.

    Quite a parallel!

  6. eehrhart says:

    Icarus,
    Notwithstanding the fact, that we are talking two separate instances here.

    Let me ask you? In any other environment when a member of an executive team, a sports team whatever sets out in the complete opposite direction of those in leadership, what group above ever keeps those same individuals in positions of influence or management or even in the starting lineup?

    They had their offices changed and their responsibilities curtailed with respect to positions of trust with the current leadership. Hardly a death sentence. Also as a matter of fact they have all been been reached out to and asked to rejoin the team.

    If they chose to be offended or felt left in an igloo then that is their perspective and perhaps that of some friends. Believe me not the prevailing sentiment in the caucus.

    Oh by the way I hear nothing from you on your Union analogy?

  7. Icarus says:

    “Oh by the way I hear nothing from you on your Union analogy?”

    Please allow me to tie my two posts up with a nice bow for you.

    I’ll start with a huge difference in philosophy between the two of us. I believe that each member of The House works for the people that elected them, not the Republican (or Democrat) party, and certainly not the Speaker.

    “…see the massive distinction between a Private citizen casting a ballot in a private or public workplace which affects their individual job, …”

    As demonstrated by Rep. Graves being moved to “the igloo”, his public vote, representing the people of his district’s wishes against those of The Speaker, affected his ability to do the job for the people he works for. (At least he remembers who that is).

    Now, let’s use your sports metaphor:

    “when a member of an executive team, a sports team whatever sets out in the complete opposite direction of those in leadership, what group above ever keeps those same individuals in positions of influence or management or even in the starting lineup? ”

    I couldn’t agree with you more. The Speaker hasn’t been able to get along with the Governor, The Lt. Governor, Or any of the groups that represent local (elected) officials across the state. You could say that he keeps going off in completely opposite directions. Like when he wanted to return tax dollars to the people “in the form of much needed local projects”. That’s what we formerly called wasteful pork when we were in the minority.

    So, Rep. Ehrhart, with Speaker Richardson continuting to set off in opposite directions from those in leadership, it’s time to send him to the back row of the House Chamber to give him some time to remind himself of who elected him, what team he’s on, and what principles elected Republicans actually stand for.

    After all, it’s hardly a death sentence.

  8. eehrhart says:

    Icarus,

    All Representatives work for the people that elect them and I have said that time after time on here and forever. So your point that we have a difference here is moot.

    If you fail to see that the House or the Senate or in effect the legislative branch has no independence from the Executive branch then we have a difference of opinion on the basics of the constitution. The Speaker and the House do not work for the Governor or the Lt Governor. They answer to the people, thus the name the “peoples house”

    Tax Paid lobbyist for groups around the state are not even on my radar and will never be. They represent not the people but the government who pays them.

    I have been standing for Republican principles since there were only 27 of us in the House. My principles are intact and consistent over 20 years. I am a conservative Reagan Republican! My voting record over that time proves it.

    Returning tax dollars to the people is a basic tenant of conservatism lest you forget. Keeping it for the government is not.

    How are you so sure of the peoples wishes in Rep Graves’s district? I know many in that area and they are completely at odds with him on the tax policy and the Speaker. So, I guess that means that in politics there are differences of opinion. Not exactly a revelation. But you seem to think that you are correct and the Speaker is wrong.

    This is just fine. In our system we solve this in a democratic manner by voting. In November we will vote hopefully in public and I submit the Speaker will prevail.

    Lets wait and see.

    Pronouncements of bows and moral superiority are somewhat premature I think

  9. mitchmartin says:

    Rep. Ehrhart,
    Every time there is a major vote that the House leadership cares about, there is intimidation and there are threats. Sometimes its implied, sometimes its spoken.
    You calling for an open vote in this speaker race is meant to intimidate those that might would consider pushing the button for the other guy in a secret ballot. Why would you need to know who voted for who unless you intended to punish those that dont? That is what I believe, and I guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree on that one, because I’m not buying what you are selling.
    For example, your analogy about Rep. Lewis a couple of weeks ago, you guys think the other 179 representatives work “for” the speaker. You just said it again above, relating the Graves situation to an “executive team” or a “sports team” where someone goes against management. House leadership is not “management,” these representatives do not work for you or the Speaker. They work for their constituents, at least I believe they should work for their constituents.
    And just go back to the comments we heard after the DOT/Mike Evans vote, when the response that we heard from House leadership about the “punishments” were that you have to keep order and keep folks in line when they dont vote with the leadership. When you punish folks for not voting your way, that is meant to intimidate those thinking about voting against leadership during the next big vote. Whether you want to admit it publicly or not, I think most would agree that is an intimidation tactic.
    The same story can be told with the fake veto override vote a couple of years ago. Vote with the leadership, or you will be punished. Austin Scott has a great story to tell about that vote.
    And, he has been brought back into the fold, just as you say the others have been reached out to. Theres been a lot of that kind of stuff going on lately, I just wonder if its a true change, or will it go right back to the way it used to be once the Speaker gets re-elected in January.
    Please understand that I dont have any ill will towards you, I just disagree with the way the House leadership does their business. And I would like to see it done differently. I dont mean to “hurl invective” at you, heck, I dont even know what that means.

  10. Dave Bearse says:

    I became a Democrat in the 1990’s after 20 years as a Republican because the GOP increasingly required its candidates to toe the party line on every issue. I don’t agree with many Democratic positions but I least I can disagree withou being ostracized.

    House District 81 where I reside is competitive—it has elected Republican Jill Chambers for a few terms yet supported Kerry in 2004. I and other fellow Democrats in District 81 have voted for Republican Jill Chambers among other things because she exhibits independence. I further consider that she as someone that is independent and a member of the majority GOP may more effectively represent me than many minority party Democrats could.

    I have not known Jill to actively support Richardson during general campaigning in District 81, but her campaigning on support for Richardson or a public vote for him would be baggage in District 81. (I have no idea who Representative Chambers voted for Speaker in the past or who she will vote for Speaker in the future, and as it stands now I may never know for sure.)

    Making the vote for Speaker public is intended to quash dissent and require GOP representatives go beyond toeing the line on issues to kow-towing to party leadership, and will undermine cross-party support.

    Democrats will have no reason whatsoever to consider a GOP candidate that can’t stray on the issues or not support the leadership, and thus have no viable choice other than to vote for the Democrat, and neither will Republicans that disspprove of the party’s leadership! The combination of all Democrats with dissenting Republicans doesn’t bode well in any but secure GOP districts.

  11. Howard Roark says:

    eehrhart

    I was in a meeting with a bunch of chamber of commerce, hospital association, local business and educational leaders when the speaker showed up to campaign for a state house candidate. He began his comments by saying “If the GOP candidate wins in November then I will be coming here to visit you but if the GOP candidate loses you will have to come to Atlanta and you may be able to see me.” The group at the meeting had been talking that it was time for change in the district but after the speaker came to the district and showed his tail by brow beating respectable men any conversation of changing representatives was over. I have not use for him. His speech single handedly caused a good man to have no chance to be elected.

    I do hope the speaker runs for governor so we can remove him from the house of representatives.

    Your comment about there being no intimidation is laughable. I can’t decide if your are foolish or stupid. Maybe your are foolish and stupid. I like to think you are not stupid. Have a spine and join the movement to oust the speaker. He is not fit to lead.

  12. MidtownTraffic says:

    What a thread!
    A what a waste there was no Democrat ( any Democrat ) willing to run against Richardson.

    The media would have loved it, covered it, the money would have been there, even in a losing suicide mission election, the opponent had fertile ground to trash and go full bore negative on the Speaker.
    Now his only opponent comes from within. As long as Democrats ask Republicans to do their work, they will remian in the minority.

  13. Dave Bearse says:

    MidtownTraffic:

    Indeed the current condition of the Georgia Democratic Party is so deplorable that the party has shown itself hapless to exploit what has become a significant and what is becomin a longstanding state GOP leadership issue even with the Democratic Party rising at the national level.

    Georgia has recently shown that it follows national party trends hard and long after the fact, i.e. an overwheming and quick flip to the GOP in 2002, 20 years after the change began to occur elsewhere in the South. Maybe the party will be able to field viable Dome and statewide candidates in time for the 2016 elections. LOL.

  14. dorian says:

    I deeply regret that all of you brow beat Rep Ehrhart away from here before I had a chance to join in. Last year, the so-called lobbyists and special interests opposing the speaker’s (failed) cocktail napkin tax scheme included: the teachers union, chamber of commerce, cities, counties, minorities, and the elderly. I think they pretty much established anyone who wasn’t a rich, white, middle class, urban property owner was a “special interest”.

    If they spent as much time trying to fix the problems. . .like delivering critical services to people who actually live here. . .as figuring out ways to save themselves money, something might actually work the way it is supposed to. As it stands the “legacy” of this republican governor and this republican legislature will be to leave us with more agencies under federal oversight than ever before.

    We won’t be able to drive on our roads, but Speaker Richardson, or Rep Ehrhart will issue some press release saying how they personally saved our tax dollars.

    Since the same rules already don’t apply to them that apply to the rest of us, why not just do what the governor did and have a retroactive tax law passed that applies only to you? Do this immediately, so maybe then you all can actually be bothered to fix something instead of breaking everything more.

    Unfortunately, I think in this next session you will spend a lot of time breaking things more. If you really want to save us all money, just don’t meet. I don’t see how not having a budget could be any worse.

  15. Thadius says:

    I can personally and experientially vouch for the FACT that the GOP leadership has sought to become accountable only to itself.
    I am a homeowner / voter in Richardson’s district (East Paulding). In the past year I have emailed him, called him, written a letter, and personally gone to his office requesting a brief discussion so I can understand some of his votes and let my opinion be known.

    He has never replied
    It’s very clear to me that Eerhart is being honest when he says he believes that the party should be accountable to the leadership. I happen to believe that each rep should be accountable to his constitiancy.

    I would welcome a change in leadership… Maybe then I could get an audience with my representative again.
    Earl, I know you have a thing about knowing names. So here ya go: My name is Daniel Stout. My contact information can be found in your buddy Glenn’s “deleted mail” box. I am ready for someone to represent me, not himself.

    – Daniel Stout

  16. Hey Dave. Jill Chambers’s MySpace page used to say Glenn Richardson was her political hero. Now it says Chuck Grassley. But if you google around for it you’ll see mention elsewhere.

  17. AtlConservative says:

    There is no doubt that something needs to change. I have no problem with Richardson if he can simply let go of his ego and remember the people of this state! (the same goes for Sonny and Casey).

    That said, I do not believe that we can move forward as efficiently or effectively with Richardson at the helm. I believe that if he truly cared, he would VOLUNTEER to step down as Speaker, so that someone without so much animosity could take charge. Then perhaps instead of kicking people out of their capitol offices, the House could pass good legislations.

    As for intimidation… We are adults and while in a perfect world the open vote might work, this situation does not lend itself well to an open vote. Whether the intimidation is stated or implied, everyone knows that IF Richardson wins and they voted against him, their bills will be stalled indefinitely.

    The point to this post? Richardson really needs to let go of ego and worry about us – the voters! Next, elections should be secret so that their is not a reperecution within the House.

    A final note – Do we really want to turn our state back over to the Dems because of our petty in-party-fighting? Really?

  18. NorthGeorgiaGirl says:

    Rep. Ehrhart,

    If you are so convinced it is only 6 “malcontents” that would vote for someone other than Glenn Richardson as speaker, what would be the point of pushing for a public vote within the caucus?

    It smells fishy to me. If so many of our Republican representatives are happy with the speaker and the job he was doing, you wouldn’t waste your time trying so hard to pretend you are not intimidating people. We all know that some people have more of a backbone in secret than they do publicly…and it is a shame it is so…but you should not change the way your nominees for leadership within the caucus. People should not be intimidated into voting against their consciences. After what happened to Tom Graves, I don’t blame any of them that are not very strong in their principles for being afraid to vote against the speaker publicly. It is a rare individual that is so strong in what he or she believes that they will not bow to fear and will always do the right thing. I’m sure your 6 “malcontents” will stand up for the right thing no matter what you do.

  19. Tommy_a2b says:

    NDnG (Chris Strickland) I look forward to you tanking your election for the St House. I bet you do not get 40%.

    P.S. I support Ralston in his bid for Speaker but I support James no matter who he supports for Speaker as long as it is not a Tax and Spend Democrat.

  20. concernedhall says:

    Tommy, (Sandoval? Maybe)

    You are calling Dr. Strickland Tax and Spend. Have you even looked at his policies? He wants freeze property tax assessments. He wants to eliminate unfunded mandates. He wants to create a priority based budget and cut spending. You got to be kidding me.

    Mills maybe the one that has to wear that label. Over the last few years all we have seen is increased spending. Now he simply wants to print new money to take care of the leaderships credit card debt.

  21. jsm says:

    Hey, concerned, your Mills link doesn’t go to any article. Also, your clueless candidate wants to indiscriminately throw more money at education and pump state money into propping up homeowners in foreclosure, all while offering no solutions for how to raise this additional cash.

    I see nothing on his issues page about cutting spending, he wants to tell law enforcement how to set priorities, and I absolutely LOVE this quote, “If you are looking for black and white solutions to problems such as abortion and immigration, you will not find them here.”

    Who’s kidding who?

  22. WhiteFemaleVoters says:

    concernedhall (Mike Parker? Maybe)

    To use your line, “You got to be kidding me.”

    Are all you liberals out there trying to say you are fiscally conservative as well as socially conservative? That is all I ever hear out of you. I got an idea for ya. Try being original and appealing to the populace. Then maybe your kind will get elected. Good luck with that.

    Tommy Sandoval

  23. newdayinga says:

    Who said that a Democrat couldn’t be socially conservative?

    I think you will find that Chris Strickland is as pro-life as most of the conservative candidates in the Georgia General Assembly.

    I asked him why he was running as a Democrat. His answer was simple. It is the only party that will allow me to vote my conscience instead of telling me what to do. It is a party of the people.

    I am tired of the top down kind of Goverment. Where Glenn Richardson runs rough shod over our representatives. Those guys work for us, and I supported Mills until he started working for them.

  24. jsm says:

    So much kidding going on in this thread…

    Someone has no idea what it was like to be a democrat under Speaker Murphy. Voting your so-called “conservative” conscience would get you a trip to the woodshed. I’d love to see what kind of welcome you’d get from Dubose Porter and Calvin Smyre, too.

    “Allow [you] to vote [your] conscience instead of telling [you] what to do?” “Party of the people?” Yeah, right.

    Keep the laughs coming.

  25. concernedhall says:

    JSM,

    I am glad that you are getting some laughs.

    How about this? While Murphy was Speaker all members got 3 committee assignments. All members were allowed to speak at the well. And all legislation was given debate before passage.

    Under Richardson, we have the STACKS and HAWKS. Debate is often limited or is non-existent. This year we spend more time debating Marijuana Flavor Candy than the State Budget.

    I’ll take Murphy, Porter, or even Ralston over the bully that currently holds the Speaker of the House’s Gavel. He is a downright disgrace.

    But we are still wondering who is Mill’s going to support.

  26. Brian from Ellijay says:

    Buzz, btw, the ninth district picknic was in Jasper, (Pickens County.) Ellijay is another 12 miles north. 🙂

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