The Speaker has not resigned. Yet. Insider Advantage reported last night and I received several phone calls from legislators all saying the Speaker would be resigning.
He lingers on. I think, though, that it is time for the Speaker to go. I had hoped he would be able to stay on, but the existence of the text messages, etc. make it too damaging for him.
No legislative leaders openly called for Richardson (R-Hiram) to resign. But several lawmakers and other Republican operatives said privately that Richardson may be too damaged politically to continue as speaker, and some said they expect him to quickly step down. A measure of his waning support came in the muted reaction of House Majority Leader Jerry Keen, a close ally of the speaker’s who passed when given the chance to say Richardson should stay in office. “What I think would be fair,” said Keen (R-St. Simons Island), “is to let me get back [to the Capitol] and sit down with our leadership team and talk with the speaker.”
Richardson stayed out of sight Tuesday. He left his Capitol office before noon without meeting with House leaders or other Republican officials, including Gov. Sonny Perdue. The speaker’s office initially said it would release a statement from Richardson, but later announced it would have no comment.
One additional point — I was too hasty in my criticisms of Mrs. Richardson the other night. I read Fox 5’s interview, but did not actually watch the tape — I’m not much on watching train wrecks. Several people, though, including my wife, said I really needed to actually watch it, much like people who heard the JFK-Nixon debate on radio thought Nixon won and those who saw it on TV thought JFK won, watching this was different from reading it.
So I did.
She comes across as very composed and much less angry than the article reads. That makes it even more devastating for the Speaker.
I had hoped Speaker Richardson would be able to overcome this and hang on. But having watched that interview now and confirmed the existence of all the texts, etc., I do not think he can or should.
A leader always needs some level of moral authority. He has none left. He, though only a representative from one county, is the Speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives. Voters are not going to want him to remain in his position given the facts of this matter. There is no way to spin it out.
I applaud the Speaker for being candid about his problems. I would like to think he could remain, given the dearth of other leadership able to replace him and, frankly, his honesty in job and effectiveness. The Speaker is, regardless of what you think of him, a man of his word. If he says he will do something, he will. In the present leadership of the state, despite his unpredictable ways, he is generally more reliable than most.
But no man is indispensable and the Speaker must now resign in favor of Mark Burkhalter, who the constitution directs will automatically take the Speaker’s place and hold an election for Speaker.