The Representative from Athens is a crass opportunist. A crass opportunist when it comes to providing the best possible representation for his constituents.
You certainly can’t call him a political opportunist. Representing part of a county that voted overwhelmingly voted for President Obama (he won 22 of 24 precincts in 08) is risky business for someone who has now switched from Democrat to Republican. It is in all-likelihood that in 2012 his seat will be the most hotly contested one in Georgia.
However, I would challenge the constituents of GA-115 to look deeper.
In a one and a half hour discussion at Depalma’s Grill, I saw nothing but a Representative who loves Athens and wants to do right by his district. To the Republicans who would like to primary him in 2012, I say give the man a chance. Challenging him in a primary is the best possible option if you want to lose the district. To outraged Democrats, I say use common sense. Given the current climate in Georgia, I think it is safe to say that McKillip’s constituents will see a tremendous increase in the quality of their representation in Atlanta. The Democratic Party of Georgia is in shambles and seems content with a leadership that toes the Washington line while offering no solutions of their own; only complaints, divisive remarks and no calls for the resignation of Robert Brown.
Doug McKillip wants more than that for the people of his district and the people of Georgia.
Furthermore, how truly surprising was his switch? I won’t say I predicted it, or even thought it, but McKillip’s switch was something that you could guess was coming if you paid attention (and cared). Here are McKillip’s votes on some major bills that passed in 2010:
HB 948: 2011 Budget: McKillip/O’Neal/Peake: Yes
HB 277: Transportation Funding: McKillip/O’Neal/Peake: Yes
HB 1023: Capital Gains Reduction: McKillip/O’Neal/Peake: Yes
HB 908: Class Size Flexibility: McKillip/O’Neal/Peake: Yes
HB 244: GEFA Loan Sale: McKillip/O’Neal/Peake: Yes
HB 1055: Fees for State Services: McKillip/O’Neal/Peake: Yes
Former House Minority Leader Dubose Porter voted “No” on all of these except HB 1023.
McKillip’s switch, and these votes, has a lot to do with being practical in light of the economic times in Georgia. Additionally, he has a great relationship with Speaker Ralston. The Speaker was the chair of McKillip’s sub-committee in Judiciary during the 2009 session. I’ve often heard that they got along very well and often chewed over bills alone together prior to the start of committee meetings.
My guess is that McKillip will be given a fair number of Republican bills to carry through the process to shore up any “switcher” problems with the Republican base back home, and continue to have the full backing of leadership (proven by his fundraiser on Jan. 4th– co-hosted by all of them- which raised over $12,000). In addition to Judiciary, Appropriations, and Natural Resources, he was just appointed Secretary of Reapportionment.
McKillip is a hard worker who wants to get things done for GA-115 and for Georgia. Speaker Ralston sees the big picture and recognizes that the Republican Party is the “big tent” party in Georgia. Having people like McKillip in the GOP is great practically and politically. In both senses it opens the door for more voices, ideas and solutions to be heard.
I stand with Doug McKillip. I hope you do too.