James.qxp Sept Oct 2018 web (2) - Page 52



H
ow it could be. Let’s see.
The lieutenant governor, who is president
of the Georgia Senate, is presiding. He was not a state
senator when elected to this position.
The Senate is heavily controlled by one party, but
there is a significant division within the majority party.
The governor is new to his job but nonetheless he has
a comprehensive, yet controversial, legislative agenda.
Frequent encounters between party members in
the Senate have been called “a split of major proportions” and “a power struggle.”
Tradition has it that a new governor is strongest at
the start of his term, yet the governor’s “number one
bill just barely passed the Senate.”
The lieutenant governor’s influence and power
results mainly from his being allowed to appoint committee chairs and the members who will serve on each
committee. But since the Georgia Constitution only
guarantees that the lieutenant governor “shall be the
President of the Senate,” this right of appointment can
be taken from him. State senators make this decision.
One senator is quoted as saying, “The one hope is
that senators will begin to realize that they’re not contributing much to good government.” Another senator
is called “tart-tongued.”
The 2019 Georgia Senate?
No. What I’ve described comes from an outstanding article written by Margaret Shannon entitled “The
Senate: Its Own Worst Enemy” in the November 21,
1971 edition of The Atlanta Journal and Constitution
Magazine. The quoted portions above are her words.
Thanks to federal Judge Hugh Lawson for sending the
magazine to me.
What is described above was actually a 1971 special session of the General Assembly. The Senate was
being presided over by Lester Maddox, former governor of Georgia and the newly-elected lieutenant governor. Maddox was never a state senator nor a state
representative.
Jimmy Carter, a former state senator, succeeded
Maddox as governor— and they have an acrimonious
relationship.
The 1971 state Senate is made up of many Georgia
political giants— some in the making and some
already made. There’s Senate Majority Leader Eugene
Holley from Augusta. He and Bob Smalley from Griffin
have a strained relationship. Hugh Gillis of Soperton is
the Senate president pro-tempore. Stanley Smith from
Perry is the senator with the most influence with
Maddox. Hugh Carter from Plains (and the governor’s
cousin) is a member.
There’s Oliver Bateman of Macon— a Republican
in a sea of Democrats— but well-liked and muchcontinued on page 54
SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2018
53

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