The View From the Democratic Side of the Aisle

One thing that is being overlooked is the potential role the minority party could play in the new Speaker’s election. All it takes is a united Democratic front and 15 or 16 disgruntled Republicans lining up behind a David Ralston or Ed Lindsey type figure. Historically these coalitions are tough to put together (just ask the aforementioned David Ralston, Larry Walker, etc). A primary reason is that the members of the two parties are skeptical of each other and rightly so. When it comes time do dole out committee chairmanships and decide on the agenda, both sides are wary of the necessary ideological sacrifices that need to be made in order to obtain power, and vice-versa.

A smart Republican and a realistic Democratic caucus are uniquely able to put the normal differences aside to form a coalition this year where it wasn’t possible in previous years. Instead of seeking big concessions on committee chairs and agenda, the Democrats could simply ask that the pre-Richardson House rules return, with one caveat: proportional membership on committees and minority members named by the minority leader. This would make the Georgia House more similar to the US House, and would do wonders for Democratic recruiting (because a candidate with expertise in education, for example, could be promised a slot on the education committee to entice them to run). This will not necessarily be a plus for the Republicans at the moment, but is a good reform for state government. When the balance of power eventually shifts back to the Democrats, the Republicans who instituted such a rule would eventually be considered patron saints of the new minority.

The 15 or 16 Republicans that join the coalition could still get first dibs at committee chairs, with maybe one or two plum ones going to Democratic leaders. It also makes sense for the coalition to appoint a Democrat Speaker Pro Temp (an empty but symbolic gesture), as well as negotiating for some guaranteed conference committee slots down the road. These conference committee positions are more important than committee chairs in many cases anyway, but don’t come with as glamorous or permanent a title. And the Democrats, in turn for some power and the old rules back, should concede that in a Republican majority body, they won’t be able to block mainstream initiatives that have overwhelming Republican support, afterall in the interest of good government Georgia did elect a Republican majority legislature and if they have any hope in making this coalition last longer than the 2010 elections the Republicans that join it will need to be able to campaign on some ideological victories in addition to restoring dignity to the House come the July primaries.

A Democrat can dream, even in Georgia. If the above happened, it would be a dream come true.


  1. AthensRepublican says:

    Since when did David Ralston attempt a compromise with Democrats? He stood by the vote of the House Caucus in the last election.

  2. Holly says:

    I seem to remember a time when the Republican minority used to work with some of the Democrats (usually urban and African American members, if memory holds) to get issues passed that were important. I don’t know why the House operates so much more divisively today. I suppose it’s politics on every level that too often have become party first, good of the people last.

    • benevolus says:

      I think they do it because they know they can’t sell their message/program. The invention of the “Hawks” is the most obvious example. Those Hawks aren’t there to overwhelm Democrats, they are there to keep Republicans in line. The leadership can’t even sell their program to their own party, which makes one wonder what it is they are trying to do. I can think of a possibility, and it has little to do with representing constituents and has a lot to do with getting rich.

      • LoyaltyIsMyHonor says:

        I think it’s so gay that they have the title “Hawk” on their name badge too. Who would proud of that?

  3. Jas says:

    If the DPOG weren’t such raving idiots they would have a chance to make some serious gains, but, instead the party is run by a group of dolts who don’t know GA from a hole in the ground.

    • benevolus says:

      I will challenge that.
      Jane Kidd is a nice person with good intentions, and she knows Georgia very well. We have a continuing problem with elected officials populating some of the Exec spots which usually seems to result in their minimal participation of Party management, but they are not dolts and they do know Georgia. I think there are a couple of younger staffers who may or may not know much about Georgia, but the ones I know aren’t dolts either. Finally, you’ve got people like S. Rosser and T. Knight in various roles who love Georgia, know Georgia, and certainly are not dolts.

      • ByteMe says:

        You know that was too much “insider junk” for someone who was just snarking from the other side of the aisle, right?

      • Goldwater Conservative says:

        I will challenge benevolus.

        Jane Kidd is a moron. The purpose of political parties is to win political offices, not promote an ideology or be “a nice person with good intentions.”

        Start a charity if you want to be nice or work for a cause.

        I agree that Tasso is not an idiot, and there are a few others that are not blithering morons. Have you any clue how many democratic consultants have left GA because of ineffective and stupid party leadership?

        Secondly, screw Georgia. Why is the state hiring people from the state? Have you any idea what kind of bias that instills in staffer’s minds?

        Politics is a business, not a cause. Politics is winning people votes, not caring about who they are. This is not a state (in the eye of the good campaigner). It is a collection of variables in geographic concentrations distributed abnormally across a political boundary.

        • benevolus says:

          OK, a lot of people “blamed” Jane Kidd for the attack mailer against Mary Norwood. But guess what? Reed won. Not the work of a moron.

          • rugby says:

            The work of a moron was authorizing and paying for the mailpiece to begin with. That mailer had little (if anything) to do with Reed’s victory. It was all risk no reward.

          • benevolus says:

            You can’t prove that, and I would say the evidence leans to it having an effect. Norwood spent the next week denying she was a Republican, do you think that didn’t soften her support just a little? In a race decided by about 700 votes, it wouldn’t have taken much.

          • rugby says:

            You are right. However, you also can’t prove that it helped either.

            Norwood imploded and was imploding before the mailer, and then spectacularly collapsed in the runoff which makes the case for the mailer being a tiny part of the puzzle much stronger than the case that it was a decisive moment.

            And she was denying allegations of being a Republican before the mailer.

          • Goldwater Conservative says:

            Who cares about who can prove what?

            In all probability it was Reed’s campaign that pressured the DPG to send out that mailer. Furthermore, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that such a tactic would be effective in Atlanta.

            This is where the disconnect is: partisan activists vs. consultants. You activists love her. You are the same people that think candidates like Bobby Saxon or Bill Gillespie can win. You are idealist passive observers of the ends results in electoral politics.

            Do you, benevolus, know what makes a political party? It is simple: win elections. How do you win elections? You raise money. How do you raise money? Work to recruit successful people into the party and prep them for democratically elected office.

            I will use Bobby Saxon as a case in point. What business did that guy have running for Congress? He was recruited by the DPG. He has never held nor run for office before. He is an unsuccessful business man. His net worth was almost nothing. His fundraising base was just over $100k. On top of that the [email protected] had to break a dozen campaign finance laws just to get the $150K he did raise. The party activists thought he had it in the bag, but just like every other democrat that has run in the 10th since 1996 he lost by 40%points.

            Why were only a handfull of candidates farmed for 2008 state legislative seats? The democratic party could have easily picked up 18 seats, maybe 24 if they worked intelligently. We have 7 republican congressmen, we had 7 democratic challengers to those congressmen in 2008. Not one had ever held elected office, only 2 were successful in life, nobody had a good fundraising base, nobody had a chance at winning…I can go.

            You should get my point here. With all the academic resources and former political operatives in Atlanta you would think the party would start reaching out. They don’t.

            Why? Because there are what, 10 “directors” that do not know what they are doing, but they know Jane Kidd doesn’t know what they are supposed to be doing. So, the suck a pay check. When outsiders offer advice, it is quashed in the interest of protecting what is essentially a no-show job.

          • benevolus says:

            I didn’t say Jane was the best person for the job. I just said she’s not a moron and she’s not ignorant of Georgia. I supported somebody else for chair, but she won anyway. It’s not so much her fault that Dems are in the mess they are in, it is the rank and file Party members who fail to recognize that the landscape has changed and we need to do things differently. The skill set needed for the Party Chair from when the party was run by the governor is different than what (I think) is needed now. The majority of members thought her skills were most appropriate (or perhaps they just voted the way someone told them to). Jane is who she is, and she’s better at some things than others (just like all of us), but she can’t become a different person.
            As far as candidates go, realistically contestable seats don’t come open very often, and when they do we get 9 candidates running for it, often damaging 3 or 4 of them in the process. You think we should run things like they do in Chicago or Boston and “encourage” candidates not to run? It does happen, but there’s not much leverage here.

            And it doesn’t matter whether Gillespie can win of not. If he’s the candidate then that’s who we go with. Even if he loses, maybe he can cultivate some ground for the next guy.

            And you know what get get when your only goal is “win elections”? You get Glenn Richardson.

  4. Goldwater Conservative says:

    I have been pondering what role the democratic caucus should be playing in all of this.

    There are several options, the least desirable options are to act in a manner consistent with the above “dream” statement and slightly less worse is to act as obstructionists.

    For one, to attempt at putting together a coalition to elect a moderate (as if there are any in the GAGOP) is risky and costly. These costs are most likely to fall entirely on the democratic party and the probability of such a coalition staying together is close enough to zero to cancel out any potential calculated benefits. Much of this has to do with how margin the democratic caucus’s numbers are, for one. More importantly is that the moderate Republicans will defect before coalition action is taken. There is zero incentive for moderate members of the GOP to align with the democrats in this state, and (as stated above) chairmanships are at stake for these guys.

    So, in short, the democratic caucus should not attempt to form a coalation with moderate republicans. p(b)-c<0 . The costs in the expenditure of political capital as well as the losses that will inevitably be incurred (ie loss of favorable committee assignements, redistricting, etc) are so great that they cancel out the probablity of deriving any positinve benefits. The same can be said if the democrats attempt an obstructionist agenda. It is only slightly less costly, but the results are the same.

    The best thing the democrats can do is stand on the side lines for this Speaker election and let the GA GOP implode. In my opinion, we have already seen that 6 years of republican dominance has produced nothing but problems. Nationally this problem was solved 3 years ago. GA is slow moving. It took 20 years longer for the GOP to get a foot in GA and it will take a little longer for the people to realize their mistakes. 4 to 6 years down the road the partisan composition may become more balanced in the state legislature, but that is all a matter of the people of GA figuring out that the democrats have had no say in policy, one, and, two, that the GOP have used their tenure in office as a redress of grievances rather than an opportunity to demonstrate competent and effective leadership.

    • ByteMe says:

      Nationally this problem was solved 3 years ago. GA is slow moving.

      We’s a little ‘tarded.

      … the GOP have used their tenure in office as a redress of grievances rather than an opportunity to demonstrate competent and effective leadership.

      How on earth can anyone expect otherwise when the mantra of “government always sucks” is what gets them into office and they then spend all their time trying to prove their statement true? Gimme someone who wants to run the railroad properly, knows how to run a railroad properly, and thinks the railroad is a huge gift and I’ll vote for them even if they’re screwing around on their 14 wives.

  5. Joshua Morris says:

    Never trust your opponent, especially in the political world. Playing nice now won’t make any difference if the democrats regain control in the future. It certainly didn’t work at the national level.

  6. B Balz says:

    @GC This is inspired:

    “The [State] is a collection of variables in geographic concentrations distributed abnormally across a political boundary.”

  7. macho says:

    If you’re a Democrat, this is one of those moments you pop some popcorn, open a Coca-Cola, and kick back to watch the fun. I don’t think we’ve even come close to watching closing credits, still need to see the climax (pun intended).

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