A few weeks ago, I speculated that the campaign of Bill Stephens might be winding down, based on the cancelation of a fundraiser that was to be hosted by House Rules Chairman Earl Ehrhart. Chairman Ehrhart was quick to respond that the fundraiser had been postponed, not cancelled, and was done so at his request due to a scheduling conflict.
I checked in with Chairman Ehrhart this evening for an update, and he reports that the fundraiser was in fact held as (re-)scheduled on September 17th. When asked how it went, he responded “we did well”.
I remembered to inquire about the Stephens fundraiser when I read Jim Galloway’s report that Speaker Richardson was headlining a fundraiser this evening for Tom Graves, along with an all-star host committee that also included Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers.
I found the Speaker leading a fundraiser for Tom Graves to be interesting for two reasons. The first, is that it is a rare public split of support for Ehrhart and Richardson. The two are best friends and generally walk in lockstep. Ehrhart downplayed the split, indicating that he and Bill Stephens have also been friends for a long time, and that the long relationship the two have shared earned Stephens the nod.
Perhaps the more significant read of Speaker Richardson endorsing Graves is that it perhaps (hopefully?) is the final chapter that has been the Gena Abraham Evans soap opera.
For those who just decided to follow Georgia Politics last week, more political capital was spent on installing Gena Abraham to the Department of Transportation Commissioner’s seat, keeping Mike Evans on the DOT board – and then ultimately – replacing them both, than any other action since Republicans took control of Georgia State government. Tom Graves played a central role in this saga, and ultimately lost both his Committee “hawk” status, as well as his capitol office, by crossing Richardson and supporting Evans.
Now, with Evans facing Graves and a cast of thousands for Nathan Deal’s congressional seat, it appears that the Speaker had but one olive branch to extend, and the peace offering went to Tom Graves.