Georgia House Democrats Elect New Minority Leader After Republican Defeat
Georgia House Republicans reelected their speaker Monday, and Georgia House Democrats gathered Tuesday to elect a new minority leader: former caucus Chairman James Beverly of Macon.
Beverly replaces Minority Leader Bob Trammell, who was defeated by a massive, coordinated Republican campaign and the most expensive state House race in Georgia history.
The celebration by the caucus of Democratic gains at the presidential level and three House seats that Democrats flipped (including the last Republican-held Atlanta seat) was muted by the loss of Trammell.
“Republicans have the money right now because they’re in the majority. But that’s not where this state is,” Trammell said when bidding his colleagues goodbye. “The presidential election showed that this state is blue, and it will continue to trend blue.”
The realities of heading into a redistricting cycle as the minority party also hung over the meeting.
“For those of you who have never gone through the redistricting process, it is the biggest challenge your character will face as a legislator,” said state Rep. Karla Drenner in her nomination speech of Beverly.
“In redistricting, they come after each one of you,” warned state Rep. David Wilkerson.
“We need to talk to each other to make sure we’ve got each other’s back. So when you’re sitting in an 80% Democratic district and they offer you 85, you say, ‘no,’ because what they’re trying to do is protect [Republican State Rep.] Chuck Efstration.” (Efstration, from Gwinnett County, has narrowly fended off a Democratic challenger for the last two cycles.)
Beverly said he’s spent time with the National Democratic Redistricting Committee to prepare the caucus for the process and pledged to raise the funds to help.
While Joe Biden is leading in Georgia by more than 12,000 votes, Republicans in both chambers of the General Assembly staved off attacks to their majorities.
“I am shocked that today we would not have the opportunity to elect one of you as speaker,” said new caucus Chairman Billy Mitchell. “We have some work to do, for sure,” he said.