Wednesday, November 10, 2010

There is no joy in Gainesville — mighty Casey (Cagle) has struck out

Posted By on Wed, Nov 10, 2010 at 11:09 AM

Of all the things this withered reporter could miss during an idyllic vacation to Northern California, it was a coup d'state Senate by conservative Republicans frustrated with the leadership (or lack thereof) of Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle.

Late last week, the Senate Republican Caucus met in Macon to neuter Cagle, who also serves as the upper chamber's president.

The move had been months in the making and a well-guarded secret. Under the new terms, Cagle no longer has authority to appoint committee chairs (a huge deal) or members (not as big, but big nonetheless). He can still assign legislation to various committees, but Senate leaders will be looking over his shoulder.

If you're one of the political junkies who munches popcorn while watching the Gainesville Republican bang his gavel, have no fear. The lieutenant governor, who you might recall dropped his gubernatorial bid because of "back problems," will still spend 40 days standing at a podium overseeing parliamentary procedure in the Senate. But the doe-eyed Cagle is now little more than a wide-smiling suit who, every once in a while, will get to ask senators to take their conversations outside the chamber.

Republican leaders have called the decision a "power-sharing agreement," which is bureaucrat-ese for, "We cut him off at the knees." Sure, the same fate would've befallen Democrat Carol Porter had she managed to upset the incumbent on Nov. 2.

But for Cagle to follow in the footsteps of Mark Taylor, the Democratic lieutenant governor who was stripped of power shortly after Republicans took control of the Senate in 2003 is, well, astounding. Here's a man who edged out Christian boy wonder Ralph Reed in 2006, now being relegated to acting as a hall monitor.

The big question is: What happens if Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle becomes Gov. Casey Cagle?

Political observers are still taking bets and wondering whether Deal — who chose not to insert himself into the Senate's attack on Cagle — will get a call from the U.S. Department of Justice for the numerous ethical issues raised about the former congressman during the gubernatorial campaign.

Should that happen, Cagle should be well rested to fulfill his constitutional duties and move into the governor's mansion.

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