ATLANTA — An independent lawmaker in the Georgia House of Representatives said Wednesday he is considering becoming a Republican, a decision that could give the GOP a supermajority in the General Assembly.
Rep. E. Culver “Rusty” Kidd of Milledgeville told The Associated Press he will request meetings with senior Republicans and is considering joining the party. His decision matters because Republicans ended Tuesday’s election one seat shy of a two-thirds majority in the House of Representatives and appeared on the brink of a supermajority in the state Senate. With a supermajority, the GOP would secure enough votes to overturn gubernatorial vetoes or send proposed constitutional amendments to voters without support from Democrats.
Kidd said he saw little difference between centrists in both parties.
“We all have the same philosophy,” he said. “We’ve got our weirdos on the left, our weirdos on the right, but the mainstream thinks alike.”
Kidd appeared irritated that state Democrats assisted challengers running against him.
“I don’t owe the Democratic Party a damn thing,” he said. “I don’t feel like I owe them a whole hell of a lot as a party.”
Rep. Stacey Abrams, the Democratic majority leader, said her party helped Kidd’s opponents because the party viewed his district as an opportunity to pick up a seat.
“If he decides to change his allegiance to the GOP, that sends a significantly different signal to the constituents who elected him as an independent,” Abrams said.
If the Republicans ultimately get a supermajority, the extent to which they could use it remains unclear. GOP lawmakers have peeled away from their party when local interests or personal ideology trumped party politics. Republican Gov. Nathan Deal has few quarrels with the GOP-dominated Legislature, meaning lawmakers rarely see vetoes.
“Simply saying that you have a supermajority who call themselves Republicans doesn’t mean that they all agree with each other,” Deal said. “And you see that regardless of whether it’s the Democrats or the Republicans.”
In the state Senate, the main question centered on a special primary for a seat that became vacant when former Sen. William Hamrick stepped down to become a judge. In that race, the Republican candidates who finished in first and second place in Tuesday’s primary will compete in a Dec. 4 primary runoff. The eventual Republican nominee is heavily favored to beat a Libertarian candidate in the Jan. 8 special election.
Also, late Wednesday, Fulton County reported that 11,000 voters had cast provisional ballots. There was a chance that could affect a state Senate race that showed GOP challenger Hunter Hill defeating Democratic Sen. Doug Stoner by 3,066 votes.