Of those I’ve spoken with concerning today’s meeting of the Republican caucus, two used the same phrase to describe the state of affairs: “badly fractured.” Efforts by some, including John Lunsford (pictured, left), to petition for a new election for all leadership positions that the caucus wanted to take action on, as we mentioned yesterday, did not succeed…yet. Part of Lunsford’s problem is the method by which he solicited signatures. He remains, according to several reports, between 10 and 15 signatures away from being able to pursue elections for a wider swath of positions. As Buzz Brockway noted, Lunsford’s work (this time more one-on-one) will continue through the weekend.
What is most curious is that a goodly number of caucus members at first perceived the stratagem by Lunsford as merely opportunistic and self-serving. That is, until Majority Leader Jerry Keen (pictured, right) spoke. While specifics continue to surface, some have suggested that Keen’s speech skipped over the inconvenient fact that he has been at the epicenter of leadership dysfunction for the last five years.
Keen is a man who, a quick review of lobbyist contribution reports from the State Ethics Commission show, has certainly been the recipient of many “gifts” over the last five years he has been Majority Leader. He also is a man who surely knew about events ongoing with regard to Speaker Richardson. Indeed, Larry O’Neal has stated publicly he knew about the shenanigans for a significant period of time. Either O’Neal knew something Keen didn’t (which shows Keen is an ineffective leader) or Keen did know about Richardson’s problems and allowed them to fester. It is the latter which is the obvious answer and shows a tolerance for improper behavior that can no longer be allowed to stand in the leadership of the Republican caucus.
There is good reason why every front page poster on Peach Pundit believes that Jerry Keen must go. Caucus leadership is not a right, it is a privilege. And if the confidence and faith the caucus has in its own leadership, and by extension itself, is “badly fractured,” then it is time for those responsible to step aside and allow the necessary corrective action to be taken.
Members of the Republican caucus would be well served to speak with Lunsford this weekend and also with as many of their counterparts as possible. As I’ve said before, there will only be one shot at fixing this mess. This is a time for new leadership and for the end of Keen’s. A clean sweep is the only remedy for what ails the caucus and these coming days will be telling if genuine reform will succeed.