Thursday, September 08, 2011

8 SEP 11: All A-GOP-e

Several Republican Presidential candidates debated in southern California Wednesday night. And several Republican leaders in Columbus tried to show they're ordinary people like you and me. They watched the debate at Momma Goldberg's Deli downtown - where years ago they automatically would have chosen Ben's Chop House.

The last decade will be remembered in Georgia politics as the one where Republicans rose to power - and now they may be ready to cash in on that gain. GPB analyzed the new state legislative districts, and concluded Republicans could have a "supermajority" after the 2012 elections. That's what we need to see in Atlanta - state lawmakers wearing capes.

A supermajority means one political party has at least a two-thirds majority. Years ago in Washington, this would have been called a "veto-proof" legislature. But since Nathan Deal is also a Republican, I think this would make him a rubber-stamp governor.

Some Georgia Republicans would consider a supermajority no super-sized concern. They'd point to the days when Tom Murphy was House Speaker, and Democrats almost always had their way in the legislature. Some would point to the secret Calvin Smyre plan to change the state flag - then mutter under their breath about Sonny Perdue never bringing the old flag to a public vote.

But the nonpartisan group Common Cause Georgia seems a bit concerned. William (not The Refrigerator) Perry says Republicans drew House and Senate district lines based on voting patterns. So some districts are solidly Republican, others are solidly Democrat - and "Independents" have little more than a holiday every July.

Common Cause Georgia isn't threatening a legal challenge to the new district lines at this point. But William Perry says the state could be looking at "one-party control" come 2013. Do Georgia Republicans really want to be compared to the Communists in North Korea?

The new state district lines still have to be approved by the U.S. Justice Department. That agency also will review the congressional district lines, which were signed into law Wednesday by Governor Deal -- the map which could lead to sections of U.S. 80 between Columbus and Macon becoming the Sanford Bishop Byway.

Could the new district lines have anything to do with a surprising announcement Wednesday by Georgia's Transportation Commissioner? Pine Mountain Republican Vance Smith resigned, after two years in the position. But maybe this isn't about running for political office again. After all the years he's spent with highway projects, Smith might want to become a traffic court judge.

(Some members of the state transportation board apparently were upset with Smith, for not filling some vacant high-level positions. Smith may have been so busy checking highway projects that he didn't know Georgia has a high unemployment rate.)

Back at Wednesday night's debate, WTVM showed Columbus Republicans watching the Presidential candidates on TV - and it appeared they were watching MSNBC. Rest assured they will NOT make that same mistake tonight, when Rachel Maddow and Al Sharpton are back on....

State Senator Josh McKoon said the debate showed Republican Presidential candidates have "solutions" to national problems. For instance, Georgia's Herman Cain declared he supports the "Chilean model" for reforming Social Security. I thought Republicans only liked models from other countries if they appear in beauty pageants.

Josh McKoon adds by comparison, President Obama is offering only "rhetoric." We'll see how accurate that is, when the President presents his big speech about job creation tonight. Hopefully he'll tie it in with the evening's other big event, by announcing four new National Football League teams.

Let's see what other kosher meat was on our deli plate Wednesday....

+ The high temperature in Columbus was a splendid 68 degrees F. If you hear someone longing for a return to 90-degree heat, ask him or her what their title is at Georgia Power.

(My latest Georgia Power bill came Wednesday, promising a new "easier-to-read bill statement" is coming soon. If the summer rates were cut in half, our bills would be MUCH easier to read -- at least on the mind.)

+ Phenix City Council voted 3-1 to approve more than $30 million in borrowing. Higher sales and apartment taxes will repay the debt, while everything from a sports complex to a new city hall is built. If Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke winds up fired, we may have found the perfect city for him to retire.

+ WTVM reported hunters captured a 12-foot-long alligator at Lake Eufaula, weighing 800 pounds. Suddenly those "bass masters" on the lake seem like a bunch of wimps.

+ Instant Message to Auburn University: I'm a little puzzled here. Before Saturday's football game, you're hosting a fish weigh-in for top college anglers. But I thought the biggest catches of the year on campus happen in February - you know, on National Signing Day.

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