FLOWERY BRANCH — House Speaker Glenn Richardson, R-Hiram, said Tuesday that he is hopeful that a date will soon be set for a caucus to elect a new member to the State Transportation Board.
Richardson, who joined Gov. Sonny Perdue at a signing ceremony for a reservoir bill, said he has not spoken directly with Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle about calling the caucus. The rules require the speaker and lieutenant governor to jointly issue the call.
"He (Cagle) and I have both had busy travel schedules," Richardson said. "When the session ends, we have the pent-up demand from everybody. So, we’ve both been gone, but our chiefs of staff have been talking."
In the interim, Richardson’s chief of staff, Chris Cummiskey, resigned to take a position with the University of Georgia.
"We need to do it (hold a caucus), and we need to do it soon," Richardson said.
The 9th District post was vacated in April with the sudden resignation of Mike Evans, who stepped down after announcing he was dating Department of Transportation Commissioner Gena Abraham.
His departure followed a tumultuous election in February that became a showdown between Richardson and Cagle, who favored Evans over Richardson’s candidate, former state Rep. Stacey Reece, R-Gainesville.
Richardson made it clear he doesn’t want another election like that one and wants a consensus candidate before the caucus.
"Good gracious alive, I hope so," Richardson said. "But they haven’t risen up yet. It seems to me that there is a dozen people that want the job. That’s good for competition, but I hope there is a consensus candidate that comes forward, and maybe that group can pick one."
Richardson downplayed the public tension between himself, Perdue and Cagle during the recent session of the General Assembly."There is always going to be tension when you’re trying to get something good done," Richardson said. "It’s no different now than it’s always been. A lot of people try to make a lot out of it."
He said he and Perdue are getting along fine.
"Absolutely. He gave me the first pen," Richardson said. After signing the reservoir bill, the governor presented the speaker with the ceremonial pen.
"Add that to your collection," Perdue told Richardson.
A Cagle spokesman was unable to determine the status of talks between the offices of the lieutenant governor and speaker.