First Republican-Controlled Georgia Government Since Reconstruction - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

01/07/05

First Republican-Controlled Georgia Government Since Reconstruction

Monday begins a new political era in Georgia. After more than 130 years, Democrats will be the minority party in the capitol.

This kind of change doesn't come easy. From who sits where to who leads what, the power has shifted and everyone's waiting to see what happens next.

Under the majestic gold dome, boxes are everywhere as politicians play fruit basket turnover.

"It is certainly interesting times, like none of us have seen before in 130 years," said Rep. Butch Parrish (D-Swainsboro).

"This is the largest moving project in the history of state government, because 180 house members are changing offices," added Rep. Jerry Keen (R-St. Simon's Island).

With the session starting Monday, the capitol is buzzing with last-minute projects, like rewiring the voting boxes at each desk. The biggest change is who'll push the buttons. The Republicans will run the House for the first time since Reconstruction.

They already held the Senate and the Governor's office.

"Never in the history of the state has there been a transition like this in this facility," said House speaker-elect Rep. Glenn Richardson, a Republican.

To the victors go the spoils, and the prime office space. "The day I announced I wasn't interested in switching parties, I got an eviction notice that the Republicans would get half my office space in the capitol," said secretary of state Cathy Cox, a Democrat.

"The people of Georgia want to see if we can govern, so we want to make the trains run on time, pass a budget in a reasonable amount of time and get out of here before the end of March," said Sen. Eric Johnson (R-Savannah), the Senate president.

If they can do all that, the session will be as productive as it is historic.

Reported by: Dal Cannady, dcannady@wtoc.com

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