The leadership of the Hall County Republican Party is expressing its displeasure with Georgia House Speaker Glenn Richardson and will ask 9th District GOP members to do this same when they meet this weekend.
The county’s GOP executive committee drafted a resolution asking for Richardson to reinstate the committee and office assignments that were stripped from four state representatives last week, including Rep. Doug Collins, R-Gainesville.
"The party here agrees with the lieutenant governor that Doug Collins has done a great job representing Hall County," said Paul Stanley, chairman of the Hall County Republican Party. "He was faced with a difficult choice and a choice that reasonable people could disagree about. ... Doug weighed those options and voted his conscience."
Collins, a first-term Republican, was removed as a subcommittee chairman after his vote on the Georgia Department of Transportation board elections went against Richardson’s wishes.
Richardson was dealt a stinging political defeat a week ago as legislators from the 9th Congressional District re-elected state Transportation Board Chairman Mike Evans to a five-year term.
Later, legislators from Southeast Georgia voted to let board member Raybon Anderson of Statesboro keep his seat.
Earlier this week, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, R-Chestnut Mountain, was among the first to come to Collins’ defense, calling Richardson’s actions "troubling."
Also stripped of assignments were Reps. Tom Graves, R-Ranger, John Meadows, R-Calhoun, and Martin Scott, R-Rossville.
Stanley said he doesn’t expect Richardson to reinstate the assignments. He said that Republican parties in other counties represented by Collins were expected to follow suit with similar resolutions. In addition, Stanley said the Hall County resolution, which was approved by the executive committee this week, will be presented Saturday to the 9th District Republican Party for its consideration.
Stanley said while the executive committee understands Richardson has some valid points in his argument, they think his actions went too far. The vote by the executive committee was unanimous, with only one person abstaining, Stanley said.
Collins told The Times he appreciated the support of the party.
"It’s not something I sought or asked for, but I certainly appreciate it and am humbled by it," Collins said after learning of the resolution.
Collins was stripped of the chairmanship of the Children’s Health Issues subcommittee. Graves was removed from his post as a "hawk," a member who can vote on any of the standing House committees. Graves was also evicted from his office in the Capitol building.
Meadows was removed as vice chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee and as secretary of the House Insurance Committee. Scott was removed as secretary of the House Ways and Means Committee and from an income tax subcommittee he chaired.
Charles Bullock, a University of Georgia political science professor, said DOT elections are usually not controversial.
"There may have been instances where a speaker tried to influence the outcome, but he did it more subtly," Bullock said.
Bullock said the resolution probably would not dissuade Richardson.
"I don’t think he’s going to fold his tent and go back to Paulding County," Bullock said.
"It’s a pat on the back for the local guy," he said. "It lets him know he’s appreciated for paying some price for bucking the speaker."
However, Bullock said beyond political operatives, few people know that a DOT election has taken place.
Stanley also said Republicans should bear in mind the words of one of their icons.
"Ronald Reagan had the 11th commandment: ‘Thou shalt not speak ill of a fellow Republican,’" Stanley said.
He said while local party leaders disagree with Richardson, they respect him.
Evans and Anderson were targeted by Richardson last year when they voted to make Gena Abraham the new commissioner of the state Department of Transportation over state Rep. Vance Smith, who chairs the House Transportation Committee.