Cagle surprised by move in Senate to curb his power

jburk@macon.comNovember 19, 2010 

WARNER ROBINS -- Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle said Thursday he did not know ahead of time about Senate Republican leaders’ plans to strip some of his powers in the Senate.

“It was all very much by surprise,” said Cagle, who was in Warner Robins for the dedication of the Houston County Career Academy.

At a meeting in Macon on Nov. 5, the Senate’s Republican caucus decided to limit Cagle’s powers to assign committees. A new committee of Republican legislators will be formed to take on the task, though Cagle will have some say in who sits on that committee.

Cagle, who recently was re-elected with almost 55 percent of the vote, said his focus remains on Georgians, who face the reality of unprecedented unemployment numbers.

“It’s not about who gets to assign committees,” he said, adding that he did not run for lieutenant governor to “play power games.”

Cagle, who is a Republican, shrugged when asked why Senate leadership might want to strip some of his powers.

“It’s hard to judge people’s motives,” he said.

Republican leaders are calling the move a “power-sharing agreement,” and top brass have said it is nothing more than a rule change. But some observers have said the impetus for the changes stems from a dispute over the way Cagle handled passage of a hospital bed tax.

Sen. Ross Tolleson, who also was in Warner Robins for the dedication, said that is just an excuse, though he does not know the other senators’ motives. He said he supported Cagle at the meeting and continues to support him.

Tolleson, R-Perry, noted that with the election just days removed from the vote, some freshman senators may not have known what they voted on.

It would have been better for the senators to have had time for more due diligence, he said.

Senate rules officially will be voted on in January.

To contact writer Jennifer Burk, call 256-9705.

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