The following was sent to the House Republican Caucus and Peach Pundit by Rep. John Lunsford (R-McDonough).
Since being elected to the House in 2000, I have had two goals. The first was to establish and maintain a majority to better represent my constituents and the other people of Georgia. The second was to create unity within our caucus to be able to ratify legislatively the Conservative values that motivated me to run in the first place. To a large extent, we have accomplished this goal as a caucus by providing tax cuts, passing tort reform, reducing the size of state government, enhancing public safety and crafting many other important measures that have improved the lives of all Georgians.
Now, however, our Caucus faces an unprecedented challenge. When confronted by this situation, I determined that the best way for us to move forward as a caucus was to reaffirm our leadership whoever that might be, while at the same time maintaining the solidarity necessary to continue to accomplish our goals.
After much thought, prayer and discussion with my colleagues, I decided that offering a petition in last week’s meeting was not only the best course of action, but also the only way to ensure that we enter the 2010 session strong, unified and energized. Many advised me against taking this course, arguing that it would hurt my chances at becoming Majority Whip. I told them, as I explain to you now, that my desire to serve as Whip pales in comparison to maintaining our majority.
For this reason, I willingly assumed the risk of a lost race and of whatever punishment leadership would mete out against me for my actions. To leave no doubt about my dedication to and belief in this higher purpose, I resigned all of my leadership positions. I wanted us to walk out of that meeting united behind our leadership and to begin preparing for the difficult session that awaits us in January.
This was not, as the media falsely reported, an effort at grandstanding. Quite the contrary, it was instead an attempt to put this unpleasantness behind us, to close ranks behind our leadership, and to face head-on the issues that are important to Georgia. Contrary to media expectations, it was not then nor is it now my intention to turn in the petition on the morning of the elections for Speaker and Speaker Pro Tem. The elections that we hold tomorrow take precedence over everything, and further distraction is counterproductive. The petition will be available thru myself or Rep Mike Jacobs, until the close of the caucus meeting so that all members, especially those who were absent from the previous meeting, will have an opportunity to sign if they wish.
As predicted by my friends, the petition has taken on a life of its own. I have been bombarded by media calls about it, and I apologize to those of you who have taken calls from your local media asking if you have signed. I did not feel a need or have a desire to share my plans with the media, as this was for the members of this Caucus and not for press.
Although I remain steadfastly committed to both the petition and the principle for which it stands, I have kept private the names of the signers to protect them unnecessary exposure to retribution in the event that leadership voluntarily placed their names up for reaffirmation.
As I have said from the start, I want to serve as your Whip because I believe the office should be about our agenda (including a pledge not to vote for a tax increase of any kind), our message, our communication strategy, and our elections. All of these are vital to the survival of our majority and to the betterment of Georgia.
I promise to each of you that I will continue to help develop the agenda necessary for us to win, both during session and at the polls next November. I will keep working vigorously to make certain that we succeed in passing our agenda and that the people of Georgia know what we have done on their behalf. Both before and after session, I will, as I have for nine-plus years as a member of this Caucus, lead the charge to raise money and to implement election strategies to make sure that we continue in the majority. I ask for your support and vow that I will do all that I can to help both our Caucus and our state.