Ralston, without opposition, will be speaker for another tem

Rep. David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge) will be speaker of the Georgia House for another two years, as House Republicans voted by unanimous consent for him in a Monday morning caucus at the state capitol.

With the GOP controlling nearly two-thirds of the House seats, Monday’s action means Ralston is assured of extending his current five-year tenure as speaker, one of the most powerful positions in the General Assembly.

House Republicans also returned Rep. Jan Jones (R-Milton) to another term as speaker pro tem for the 2015-16 legislative sessions, along with the other caucus leaders: Majority Leader Larry O’Neal (R-Bonaire), Caucus Chairman Matt Hatchett (R-Dublin), Majority Whip Matt Ramsey (R-Peachtree City), Caucus Vice Chairman Sam Teasley (R-Marietta), and Secretary-Treasurer Allen Peake (R-Macon).

All of the lawmakers in leadership positions were reelected without opposition during a caucus meeting that was primarily a celebration of last week’s elections where Republicans held on to 119 of the 180 House seats.

“I don’t think we’ve ever had a finer performance as a caucus since I’ve been here,” Ralston said in a brief speech to his House colleagues.

“It’s going to be a victory lap,” said Rep. Regina Quick (R-Athens), shortly before the caucus started.

Rep. Joe Wilkinson (R-Sandy Springs), a House veteran who nominated Ralston for another term as speaker, recalled how Ralston was elected speaker five years ago when House Republicans were reeling from a sex scandal involving former speaker Glenn Richardson.

“I was never worried about us losing majority status (during the Richardson scandal), but I was worried about losing the respect of the people of Georgia,” Wilkinson said. “We were finally able to elect David Ralston as speaker. He brought dignity back to this House.”

The one cloud hanging over Ralston’s upcoming term as speaker is a complaint filed against him in June by the State Bar of Georgia over his handling of a lawsuit for a former client.

The complaint, which the Georgia Supreme Court has not yet acted upon, alleged that Ralston abandoned a client he was representing in a personal injury case by using his legislative leave privilege to have a trial of the case repeatedly delayed. The complaint also alleged that Ralston misappropriated client funds.

© 2014 by The Georgia Report

Tags: Allen Peake , David Ralston , House Republicans , Jan Jones , Joe Wilkinson , Larry O\'Neal , Matt Hatchett , Matt Ramsey , Regina Quick