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2 foes of Georgia Senate GOP leaders lose committee posts

January 12, 2021 GMT

ATLANTA (AP) — Republican leaders in the Georgia state Senate sent two of their internal opponents to timeout Tuesday, stripping them of committee chair posts.

Republican Burt Jones of Jackson lost a challenge to Senate President Pro Tem Butch Miller of Gainesville in Republican leadership elections in November. Now he has also lost his position as chair of the Senate Insurance and Labor Committee with the announcement of committee assignments by Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan.

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Republican Sen. Brandon Beach of Alpharetta had led the Senate Transportation Committee in the previous term. But Beach, who had supported Jones’ challenge, will also not lead any of the state Senate’s 26 committees over the coming two years.

In addition to being internal foes of Miller, both Jones and Beach have been prominent supporters of efforts to overturn Democrat Joe Biden’s presidential election win in Georgia, signing up as plaintiffs in lawsuits and attending hearings that allowed supporters of President Donald Trump to make unsupported claims of wrongdoing in Georgia’s elections. Neither Jones nor Beach immediately responded to requests for comment Tuesday.

Democrats continue to criticize those actions. Sen. Jen Jordan, a Democrat from Atlanta, slammed fellow members of the state Senate who pushed misinformation and conspiracy theories from the Trump campaign Tuesday morning from the floor of the Senate.

“Members of this body aided and abetted the spread of information, they gave oxygen to a lie,” Jordan said.

Duncan has made several appearances on national television since the November election to attest that Georgia’s election was freely and fairly held and decry attacks on election officials by President Trump and his allies.

Duncan named chairs and assigned members to committees in consultation with other Republican leaders. It’s a key step at the beginning of every two-year term, with chairs having a strong influence over what legislation advances and how it’s written. The House is expected to announce committee assignments in coming days.

Some intraparty opponents of Republican leaders and Trump partisans kept their leadership positions. Republican Sen. Greg Dolezal of Cumming will chair the Science and Technology Committee, while Republican Sen. Matt Brass of Newnan will chair the Banking and Financial Institutions Committee.

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Brass had led the Reapportionment and Redistricting Committee in the last term, but in the crucial year when new lines will be drawn, was replaced by Republican Majority Leader John Kennedy of Macon.

Overall, there was a heavy shuffling of committee leadership in the 56-member Senate, where Republicans hold a 34-22 majority. Here are some other key changes:

— Republican Sen. Chuck Payne of Dalton was named to head the Education and Youth Committee after P.K. Martin lost to Democrat Nikki Merritt.

— Republican Larry Walker of Perry was named to head the Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee after former chair John Wilkinson left the Senate to run for Congress.

— Republican Brian Strickland of McDonough was named to head the Judiciary Committee after former chair Jesse Stone retired.