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Senator Williams in Power Struggle with Cagle
Tuesday, 25 January 2011

January 25--  The AJC's "Political Insider" has some insight into the power struggle between Senator Tommie Williams of Lyons and Georgia Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle.  The outcome may not be good news for South Georgia and redistricting later this year.

Casey Cagle wins an obscure but important tiff over redistricting

Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle apparently survived another attempt to circumscribe his authority over the state Senate this morning.

As previously reported, there was an attempt on Monday to insert language into a resolution on the Senate consent agenda that would have given President pro tem Tommie Williams, R-Lyons, control of the Senate committee that holds the chambers purse-strings.

Say-so over the money, means say-so over staff. And that’s important.

But Cagle refused to call the item to a vote, and a days’ worth of backroom strategizing followed. (The exact wording of the Monday proposal remains a mystery. For some reason — no doubt a Senate staffer obsessed with recycling — all copies have disappeared.)

A morning meeting of the Senate Republican caucus stretched into overtime while a compromise was hashed out.

Under the measure that was approved by a 37-16 vote today, Williams indeed wins the chairmanship of the Committee on Administrative Affairs. But Cagle retains a majority of appointments to the panel.

More important was this paragraph:

”By agreement with the appropriate officer or officers of the House of Representatives, the President of the Senate [i.e., Cagle] may authorize the establishment and employment of staff for newly created joint offices of the General Assembly.”

In other words, Cagle retains the power to negotiate, with House Speaker David Ralston, the composition of the House-Senate committee that will oversee redistricting this year.

Williams had sought to make himself the Senate’s arbiter with the House on the most crucial issue of the year – the district boundaries for members of Congress, the state House and Senate, and many offices. All are to be redrawn, based on new census data.

This is where Williams’ motivation for seeking more authority in the Senate becomes understandable for many Georgians. Right now, the three figures who will control redistricting are Gov. Nathan Deal, the House speaker, and Cagle.

All are from north Georgia, which is certain to gain representation because of population growth.

Williams is from Lyons, in south Georgia, a region that is slowly but steadily bleeding people and losing political clout.

Come this fall, when the Legislature is likely to take up redistricting in a special session, residents of south Georgia may wish Williams had won today’s obscure little fight.

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider


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