House Speaker David Ralston, seen here on the last day of this year’s legislative session, denies that he abused legislative leave to delay cases for clients of his private law practice. EMILY HANEY / emily.haney@ajc.com
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Ralston tries to quiet threat of revolt – and floats Pence help 

House Speaker David Ralston urged his caucus to put to rest efforts to oust him over claims he misused his legislative privileges. He also floated the possibility that Vice President Mike Pence could help defend imperiled GOP legislative seats.  

Ralston told dozens of House Republicans at a closed-door retreat Saturday in Adairsville that he’s in discussions with Pence’s camp to host a fundraiser to boost incumbents in competitive districts, according to several people at the meeting, though it’s considered highly unlikely. 

And he pushed rank-and-file legislators to “turn the page” on the efforts to reprimand him after an investigation by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Channel 2 Action News found Ralston used his legislative privileges to delay hearings for his legal clients.

(A group of about 10 Republican lawmakers sponsored a resolution demanding his resignation. We’re told the chief backers of that push didn’t attend the event.) 

Ralston is under pressure to step up the defense of vulnerable Republicans after Democrats flipped about a dozen seats, mostly in Atlanta’s suburbs, in November’s midterm. 

Republicans have a 105-75 edge in the chamber, and Democrats are circling 15 seats where GOP incumbents struggled. Republicans plan to go on the offensive, too, to take aim at Democrats representing districts that Donald Trump won. 

At the meeting, Ralston also pleaded for GOP unity going into the 2020 election – and came armed with two quotes from Georgians to help make his case. 

The first he recited was attributed to University of Georgia coach Kirby Smart: “Bad decisions have bad consequences.” 

The second, a paraphrase from the late Gov. Zell Miller, was even more striking, and suggested Ralston may take a more combative approach to dissidents next year. 

“If there’s a snake in your house, kill it.” 

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About the Author

Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein is a political reporter who covers the governor's office and state politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
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