North Georgia GOP lawmakers eyeing 'trifecta'

North Georgia GOP lawmakers eyeing 'trifecta'

October 4th, 2010 by Andy Johns in Politics Regional

RINGGOLD, Ga. - If Republicans Nathan Deal and Casey Cagle are elected Georgia's next governor and lieutenant governor, the North Georgia mountains would be well represented in the state's highest elected offices.

Northwest Georgia Republican lawmakers say that could help their region, but Deal's and Cagle's Democratic rivals say that's not how it's been so far.

Deal and Cagle are both from Gainesville, located on the front lines where Atlanta's suburbs meet the mountains. Republican Speaker of the House David Ralston, who was elected speaker in January, hails from Blue Ridge in Fannin County.

On the Democratic ticket, gubernatorial candidate Roy Barnes is from Cobb County in metro Atlanta. Lieutenant governor candidate Carol Porter is from Wrightsville, Ga., 60 miles east of Macon.

State Sen. Jeff Mullis, R-Chickamauga, called the potential scenario a "trifecta" and said it would be the first time he or his colleagues know of in which governor, lieutenant governor and speaker of the House would be North Georgians.

Gov. Sonny Perdue, who is from Houston County south of Macon, has been good to the region, Mullis said, but having Ralston, Deal and Cagle in office should help North Georgia.

State Rep. Jay Neal, R-LaFayette, said having heavy-hitting leaders from the region in high offices would ensure that North Georgia's needs are heard and understood. He acknowledged that, at times, local legislators "had to work harder" to make sure their causes were heard above South Georgia or metro Atlanta delegates.

But Catoosa County Democratic Party Chairman Christopher Scott doubts Northwest Georgia would see any significant benefits.

"What are we going to get? I don't know. I know Sen. Mullis has talked about the maglev train ever since he's been office. Have you ridden on it yet? I haven't," Scott said.

"When are we going to get Alabama Highway widened? When are we going to get the infrastructure we need for this area? It's all Republican controlled, so why is everything becoming a ghost town?

"Are we going to get anything from it? Obviously not."

At a rally in Ringgold last month, Cagle said the governor and lieutenant must put the whole state first, but someone from the area "wouldn't have to be educated about the needs of the region."

"A North Georgia governor isn't going to necessarily bring more projects to the area," Cagle said after speaking to the group. "It's the fact that you know them. You have their ear."

Porter spokeswoman Liz Flowers said the candidate would be a "unifying voice" in the state to get past any geographic squabbling.

"We all take pride in the areas where we come from in Georgia, but the most important thing right now is unifying the state," Flowers said. "We can't have the regional battles we've had."