Edumicate the Yankee

There was an interesting paragraph in anArticle about how the rent-seeking business community was backing Richardson:

Following the November elections, Republicans will caucus to name their candidate for Speaker, who is then elected by the full Legislature in January. This is only the third challenge to a sitting Speaker since the Legislature gained its independence from the governor in 1966. Former Democratic Speaker Tom Murphy faced and put down the previous two.

It sounds like there was a civil war down at the Gold Dome that I’ve never heard about. How was the legislature dependent on the Governor prior to ’66?


  1. Just the Facts Please says:


    Prior to this the Governor controlled the House and appointed all chairman, etc. The election between Bo Callaway and Lester Maddox was decided in the House that year and part of the “deal” to elect Maddox was giving the House its “independence”.

  2. Chris says:

    Was there a Speaker? Or was the Speaker a figurehead like Taylor was under GOP control?

    the possible abuses of power of a Governor able to punish members who didn’t vote his way boggles the mind.

  3. Just the Facts Please says:

    Yes and Yes, except that he was a Dem under Dem control. Suggest you read about the Callaway-Maddox race. Bo won the popular vote but GA (the first GOP candidate to do so in a gov’s race) still had the county unit system and the results were thrown into the House where the deal was made for “independance”.

  4. Wrong. The county unit system had been discarded. Callaway won a plurality of votes but 50% was required (as it is presently) and the legislature was tasked with picking the winner if no candidate had 50% (now we have a runoff).

    Two Democratic candidates (one running as a write-in) combined to receive a majority of the votes and the massively Democratic legislature picked Lester Maddox to be the next Governor, even though many Democratic members voted like their districts and put their support behind Callaway.

    The House had always operated (informally) as an arm of the Governor, with the “Second Floor” picking the Speaker and assigning all committee chairs. The House’s “deal” with Maddox was that they were glad to make him Governor but that they’d be picking their own leadership from that point on, thanks very much. Of course Callaway would have no doubt accepted the same deal and had he been elected by popular vote the Democrats probably would have declared their independence anyway.

    This is one of the reasons it is tough but not impossible to take out a Speaker. The Speaker will play up his “independence” and in many cases the opposing candidate does indeed have ties to the Governor. DuBose Porter was certainly backed by Zell as Larry Walker was backed by Sonny, although nobody believes that had either won they would have reinstituted gubernatorial control over the legislature.

  5. As an aside, I believe Mississippi still picks their Governor in this way if no one receives 50%. I know in 1999 that Ronnie Musgrove was picked by the legislature after he won the most votes but fell short of the 50% mark. Not sure if they have since changed the law but I believe everything is still operating that way there.

    Vermont is another state (and maybe the only other state) to do this. If no one receives 50% there the election is thrown to the House and Senate who can then pick anyone from the top three. Their current Republican governor was first elected in 2002 when he received about 45% of the votes ahead of the Democratic nominee who received 42%. Because the legislature was (is?) still Republican, it was an easy choice for them to make.

    There was some controversy there the year Howard Dean ran for re-election after approving civil unions. He was squeezed on both sides, with a social conservative running as a Republican and a leftist running as a third party candidate claiming that he “didn’t go far enough.” Democrats knew Dean would get the most votes but worried that the two candidates would combine for more than 50% and that the Republican legislature might pick the Republican. Dean ended up just above 50% thus avoiding having to face the legislature.

    And people think Georgia is wacky.

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