As we noted earlier this week, Columbus State Senator Josh McKoon is doing well these days. On Monday he was tapped to chair two study committees dealing with Heath Care funding and Criminal Justice Reform. Wednesday, he was tapped by Maverick PAC – the political action committee which claims George P. Bush as a national Co-Chair – as one of their “40 Under 40” national leaders. McKoon was the only Georgian to make the list. Says the group:
The 40 Under 40 awards celebrate a list of professionals deemed by their peers from across the country as up-and-coming leaders for the next-generation of Republicans. The honorees come from diverse backgrounds, including politics, business, law and entrepreneurship.
“MavPAC members are pioneers for the next-generation of Republicans. The accomplishments of the recipients of the 40 Under 40 awards are indicative of their future contributions as leaders of our party,” said MavPAC National Vice-Chair, Jay Zeidman. “We are expecting great things from this group.”
Last January, McKoon was named Chairman of the Senate’s Judiciary Committee, which was one of the first public signs that his political status at the capitol had changed dramatically from the year before.
During the 2012 session of the Georgia General Assembly, McKoon could meet with all his political friends in the smallest of Capitol offices and have room to dance, if they wanted. The ethics legislation he championed was thwarted at every turn. Even his proposal for an ethics study committee was gutted by opponents to the point that McKoon couldn’t even support his own proposal. He was publicly and privately encouraged to shut up and preferably go away. To that end, there were serious rumblings that McKoon would receive a well-financed primary challenge tacitly supported by leaders within his own party.
So, what changed?
Most directly, the leadership of the State Senate was new this year. Former Majority Leader Chip Rogers is now the highest-paid blogger at GPTV, and probably Georgia. Former President Pro Tem Tommie Williams has ceded his gavel to David Shafer, who, along with State Senator Ronnie Chance, knows the difference between a winning issue and a losing one. Keeping McKoon out in the cold left no way for them to bring the ethics issue inside their own tent.
But the public also proved McKoon right on the issue too many wished would also just go away in 2012. Ballot questions in last July’s primaries made McKoon’s ‘pet’ issue one that Republican leaders realized they must be on the right side of. Leadership changed for the smarter, and the coalition that thwarted reform was replaced leaders who understood the Senate needed it. Subsequently, the first gift caps limiting what lobbyists can spend on legislators in Georgia were passed and signed into law this year.
In a year, McKoon has gone from someone who it was dangerous to your own political future to be seen with in public to a figure now receiving national attention. This didn’t happen because he changed. It happened because he didn’t, and instead, changed the debate.