Political Notes: Black, Carter switch parties

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State Reps. Ellis Black and Amy Carter of Valdosta, as had been long rumored, have switched to the Republican Party, giving the GOP even tighter control of the Georgia House of Representatives.

The changeovers of Black, a 10-year legislative veteran, and Carter, who will be serving her third term, were announced by House Speaker David Ralston.

“These are outstanding Georgia leaders who have chosen to put the interests of their districts ahead of party,” Ralston said. “They have rightly decided that the interests of rural Georgia can best be served by joining the Republican Party.”

“Many changes were brought about by our last election, and I feel that I can best represent my district as a member of the Republican Party,” said Carter, whose district actually went for Democrat Roy Barnes in the governor’s race.

“When I was first elected, we had conservative Democrats in the leadership of the Democratic Party; today, there are none,” said Black, a farmer.  “I have a 10-year record of voting the thinking of my constituents, and I believe I can best serve my constituents as a Republican.”

With the departures of Black and Carter, there are now 66 Democrats in the House compared to 113 Republicans and one independent (Rusty Kidd of Milledgeville).  Republicans are edging ever closer to 120 votes, which would give them the two-thirds majority needed to pass constitutional amendments without any votes from Democratic lawmakers.

Powell explains it

Another Democrat who recently jumped to the other party, Rep. Alan Powell of Hartwell, explained his thinking in an op-ed column:

Over the past six years, since the Republican Caucus took control of the House, being a minority member has restricted my ability to influence policy and direction even though my philosophy and institutional knowledge were shared by the majority. Even though my voting record and credentials were acceptable, the “D” next to my name kept me from being an influence on issues of importance.

In the days following the Nov. 2 election, I met with friends and citizens from my district, and the questions asked were: How effectively could I represent the 29th District from the wilderness of a shrinking minority? Could I ignore the fact that Gov.-elect Deal carried the three counties in my district with 70 percent of the vote? Should I deprive the people of my district a seat at the legislative table and let 20 years of legislative experience and institutional knowledge effectively go to waste?

I have never been a stridently partisan representative. I always vote for the best interests of the citizens of Franklin, Hart and Madison counties, rather than in support of a political party. I have crossed party lines many times, including voting last January to elect House Speaker David Ralston. It is likely I will vote across party lines in the future when that is in the best interest of my district and the state.

I did not create the system that we have, and I am not here to bash anyone . . .

The bottom line is this: I changed party affiliations because the Georgia General Assembly has some serious issues in front of us when we reconvene in January, including a $2.3 billion budget deficit, reform of our tax system, protection of our water resources, and legislative and congressional redistricting. The people of the 29th District deserve more than a representative on the sidelines.

© 2010 by The Georgia Report

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Tags: Alan Powell , Amy Carter , David Ralston , Ellis Black , Georgia House Republicans