House Republican blasts ‘authoritarian’ Deal

Rep. David Stover, R-Newnan, blasted Gov. Nathan Deal on Friday and said Deal ‘drives every decision’ at the Capitol.

Stover, speaking from the well of the House, said just as English philosopher John Locke “refuted the divine rights of kings, I’m here today to refute the divine rights of a single authoritarian branch of government.”

Stover said lawmakers have lost their way.

“The executive drives every decision under the Gold Dome,” he said. “We worry what will happen if we vote against the governor’s bill or the lieutenant governor’s bill. The answer is quite simply punish those who disagree with these bills.”

Stover did not say what prompted his tirade. He spoke during the “morning orders” segment of the House session where lawmakers are allowed to speak on any topic.

Later, Stover told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he was angered by remarks Deal made the night before at a fund raiser Stover said the governor criticized lawmakers who voted against his bills this year

Immediately after Stover’s remarks, Rep. Christian Coomer, R-Cartersville, gave a spirited defense of the governor. Coomer is one of Deal’s House floor leaders — the governor’s emissaries to the chamber who sponsor Deal’s legislative priorities.

Coomer disputed Stover’s claim that Deal, a fellow Republican, requires unquestioned support for his bills. The governor’s top legislative priority, Senate Bill 133, could reach the House floor next week and Coomer said he is “proud to say I’ve talked to almost every member of this House to try and work out a good bill that everybody has some buy-in.”

SB 133 would create a statewide “Opportunity School District” that would allow the state to take over failing schools. Deal, Coomer said, has worked to make sure the bill is “acceptable to the broadest swath of the House,” because “we have a great governor.”

Deal is a “governor who spent 30 years of his career as a legislator who appreciates your input and feedback and welcomes you to come to his office.”

Coomer ended with a shot back at Stover.

“Now, if a member has a disagreement with that, the member’s perspective may be skewed,” Coomer said. “That may be the kind of person to come to you at your seat and falsely accuse you of violating the rules of this House, as the member who just spoke before me did last week.”

Be careful, Coomer said, “who you listen to and think about your own experiences when you decide who to rely on.”

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