There was a time that lasted until the last decade where central Georgia, specifically the area around Houston County, was the epicenter of Georgia politics. Stalwarts like Richard Russell established the area’s dominance of political influence. Sam Nunn single handedly kept this red state blue for a decade longer than demographic shifts would have suggested. And only when native son Sonny Perdue moved over to the Republican party did the rest of the state follow.
Assuming Republicans win with their slate, the Governor and Lt. Governor will both be from the same town of Gainesville, and the Speaker of the House will be from the congressional district. Most now accept this as a foregone conclusion.
Travis Fain at The Macon Telegraph today reports that Representative Larry O’Neal, a Warner Robbins Republican who finished runner up to David Ralston for the position of House Speaker, will seek the postion of House Majority Leader being vacated by Rep Jerry Keen. If successful, this would represent the highest ranking person at the state level for a region used to having one of the key seats of power.
If unsuccessful, however, the result will apparently be even more power consolidation in Hall County. O’Neil’s only announced challenger is Representative James Mills, R-Gainesvile.
My sense is that there will be a strong sense of disappointment in and near Houston County if they are unable to get their man elected to the majority leader’s position. I further believe that the disappointment will be served with a strong dose of bitterness if they lose that position so that yet another person from Gainesville can assume a key position of power.