Storm clouds gathering for Nathan Deal’s school takeover plan?

Gov. Nathan Deal's signature legislative proposal emerged relatively unscathed from a key House committee on Monday. But a day later, there were some ominous signs about its fate.

Georgia House Democrats took a position Tuesday morning against the measure, urging their caucus' 60 lawmakers to unify against the proposal to give the state sweeping new powers over perennially failing schools. The Legislative Black Caucus was set to have a similar debate Tuesday afternoon.

At the same time, the measure has yet to be put on Wednesday’s debate calendar. Deal said he was hopeful it would still reach a final vote Wednesday, but the delay could be a sign his vote-wranglers are still short of the two-thirds majority they need.

“We hope that we can,” Deal said Tuesday on the chances of passing his proposal this year. “We don’t ever have any certainty about that. It’s part of the legislative mystery.”

The governor’s constitutional amendment needs to reach the 120-vote mark to get final passage, and there are already signs of some defectors from the Republican side. State Reps. David Stover and Tommy Benton have both been critical of the bill. Stover, for one, compared Deal to a despot who uses heavy-handed tactics in a speech on the floor of the House last week.

“I have not talked to Rep. Stover and I did not hear what he said,” said Deal. “I figure if he wanted me to hear what he said, he’d come talk to me.”

He’ll likely have to make up those votes with more support from Democrats, including state Reps. Mike Glanton and Valencia Stovall, who both voted for the proposal in committee.

“I would hope each individual in our caucus would weigh the opportunity,” Glanton said Tuesday. “We need to do some radical things. Everyone won’t be pleased, but what we have now isn’t working.”

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