Contest emerges for spot in Georgia House GOP leadership

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State Rep. Sam Teasley, left, and House Speaker David Ralston engage in an intense conversation during the debate over H.B. 170, the transportation funding bill. Ben Gray, bgray@ajc.com

With the election in the rear view mirror, Georgia legislators are turning their attention to January’s return of the General Assembly.

First stop for House Republicans: Monday’s caucus meeting where officers will be elected and the party’s choice for speaker of the House nominated. That last bit will apparently have little drama as Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, is expected to cruise to another term. (Yes, technically he won’t officially be re-elected speaker until the House as a whole votes in January, but the GOP will hold a 118-62 advantage, making the caucus vote the one that matters.)

There is one open spot in the caucus leadership ranks thanks to Majority Whip Matt Ramsey’s decision not to run for re-election to the House this year. While many House members expressed interest in the spot, Rep. Christian Coomer, R-Cartersville, has apparently cleared the field.

No, the only fight on hand is for caucus vice chair, where incumbent Rep. Sam Teasley, R-Marietta, late this week picked up a challenge from Rep. Mandi Ballinger, R-Canton.

Over at Georgiapol.com, the intrepid Jon Richards breaks down how Teasley and Ralston have not always had the best of relationships:

Teasley has occasionally crossed paths with House leadership. He was seen arguing with the Speaker before the original House vote on last year’s transportation funding bill, a vote that led to the immediate departure of Majority Leader Larry O’Neal.

Teasley has remained in the fold, but others seem to keep drawing attention to him as a potential challenger to the House agenda or leadership. The Speaker’s two time challenger, Sam Snider, listed Teasley by name as a person he would like to see become Speaker when he defeated Ralston. Teasley was also listed as an attendee of an event held by the Tea Party of Gilmer County, a group opposed to Speaker Ralston, to speak on RFRA, in the Speaker’s House District. Teasley said the invitation with his name on it was “a mistake”, but the seeds of distrust seem to have taken root.

Meanwhile, the Senate Republican Caucus held its leadership elections this week and Sen. William Ligon, R-Brunswick, lost his spot as caucus chair.


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