Georgia House Republicans Hold Leadership Elections

The Republican caucus met to elect its leadership on November 14th, 2016. Photo: Jon Richards
The Republican caucus met to elect its leadership on November 14th, 2016.
Photo: Jon Richards
Republican members of the Georgia House met today to elect new leadership for the legislative session beginning in January, a meeting that generated few surprises, as there was only one contested seat, which ended up being won by the incumbent.

Rep. Sharon Cooper nominated David Ralston for Speaker. In her nomination speech, Cooper noted that Ralston has held the position since 2009. She called him “the right person for the job then and he is right for the job now.” With no other nominations, and no dissent, Ralston was elected as the caucus’s nominee by acclamation, although because of the Republican majority in the House, his election by the full House in January is virtually a certainty.

Speaker Pro Tem Jan Jones was nominated by Rich Golick and was elected by the caucus to serve another term. In her nomination speech, Jones said she had woken up last Wednesday excited to see that Donald Trump had won the presidency, and that she hoped a Republican in the White House would mean good things for Georgia. Rep. Jon Burns was re-elected by acclamation as Majority Leader, telling his caucus that its success must continue, but that the caucus needed to stay united.

The position of Majority Whip, which had no incumbent after Rep. Matt Ramsey decided not to run for another term in the House was won by Christian Coomer. Despite rumors of other members wanting to get into the race, Coomer had no opposition, and was elected by acclamation. Also elected by acclamation was Caucus Chair Matt Hatchett, who reminded his members that, “We may not be all together, but together, we can be all.” Similarly, Bruce Williamson was re-elected by acclamation for his position as Secretary-Treasurer.

The only contested seat was that of Majority Caucus vice-chair. Incumbent Sam Teasley was challenged by Mandi Ballinger. Nominated by Rick Jasperse, Ballinger told the caucus she was running because, as a cancer survivor, she felt she could do a great job leading the caucus. Teasley, who was nominated by Geoff Duncan, said that running for political office requires a combination of ambition and service, and promised humility, honesty and leadership if he was elected. Teasley won the position via a secret ballot. As is customary, individual vote totals were not disclosed.

Wrapping up the meeting, Speaker Ralston said the caucus takes a lot of pride being members of the house, and reiterated that it is essential that the caucus unites. Citing the results of Tuesday’s election, he said that the Democrats have gotten emboldened, winning seats formerly held by Mike Cheokas and Valerie Clark. But he also said that the Democrats were touting how many near misses they had in other contests, noting that “only a loser calls losing winning.”

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