Kudos to Rep. Tommy Benton and Rep. Terry England of Jackson and Barrow counties for taking a stand against Georgia House Speaker Glenn Richardson.
Benton and England are two of a cadre of representatives who plan to support another candidate to challenge Richardson for the Speaker’s position.
It’s the right move to make for the citizens of Georgia. Richardson has become a petty legislative dictator within state government. Last year, it was Richardson who attempted to financially castrate local governments by doing away with property taxes in favor of a state controlled — ie. Richardson controlled — sales tax.
That idea was a craven play to the masses, a cynical political ploy designed to give the state government the power to control the purse strings of all local governments. While high property taxes are a legitimate issue in the state, Richardson attempted to exploit that not with a real solution, but rather with a grab for more state power.
That hasn’t been Richardson’s only political sin. His arrogance has tainted the entire House of Representatives. He plays petty politics with important leadership positions, demanding 100 percent loyalty from House members or they risk losing key committee seats. Richardson rules not by attempting to build consensus among people with differing views, but rather by bullying and forcing his partisan views on others.
When Republicans took power in Georgia a few years ago, many believed it would be a change of course for state government away from over 100 years of Democratic domination. Republicans promised conservative government.
But what Georgia got was just more of the same old politics, only worse as inept and inexperienced people rose to leadership positions. By and large, Republicans squandered the public’s trust. Much of that rests on the shoulders of Richardson.
Now he faces a real challenge, a coup that could bring him down in favor of a more moderate and sensible voice in the House.
For the good of Georgia, let’s hope Reps. Benton and England and their colleagues are successful in that effort.