O’Neal is a former chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, which oversees tax law, and is a longtime tax attorney in Middle Georgia.
In a letter to fellow House Republicans this week, O’Neal said, “I am excited about this incredible opportunity yet it is with a very heavy heart that, if this offer occurs, I will be resigning as Majority Leader and as the House member from District 146, effective midnight April 30th, 2015.”
His resignation has set off a scramble to replace him as majority leader, the No. 3 position in the House. Several candidates have already emerged, including Game, Fish & Parks Committee Chairman Jon Burns, R-Newington, and Rep. Allen Peake, R-Macon, the current Republican caucus secretary-treasurer.
“Speaker Ralston thinks highly of both Chairman Burns and Representative Peake,” said Kaleb McMichen, a spokesman for Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge. “Knowing that other members may offer their names for consideration, it would be premature at this point to offer an endorsement.”