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The Past His Sell-By Date Award 

Rep. Mark Burkhalter

For years, the north Fultonite has been the lower chamber's golden boy, a well-dressed yacht captain with a Midas touch. After Speaker Richardson was kicked off the dais, his second-in-command Burkhalter was considered next in line to wield the gavel.

But shortly after giving a WSB-TV interview in which he was pointedly asked if he had any children out of wedlock (his non-answer answer: "I sleep just fine at night."), Burkhalter made an about-face and announced that, not only would he not pursue the speaker's seat, but he wouldn't seek re-election as speaker pro tem.

Not only were his days of enjoying crazy perks – such as a hunting trip at a insurance executive's southwest Georgia mansion – and outrageous per diems over, but Burkhalter's clout had fallen so much that he was no longer able to move his legislation. When he co-sponsored – with fellow tainted golden boy, Rep. Ben Harbin, R-Athens – a measure labeled the "dead peasants bill" because it would've allowed Georgia to collect life insurance on state employees, it didn't even make it out of committee.

With his prestige evaporated, Burkhalter finally decided to leave politics. We say adios.

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