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Posted: 11/8/2002 9:06:26 AM EDT
Oh yeah...here they come. LAGRANGE -- State Sen. Dan Lee became the first Democratic legislator this morning to announce his switch to the GOP. Lee made the expected announcement as Gov.-elect Sonny Perdue's seven-city victory tour stopped in his hometown. "From this day forward, they can count me in the Republican aisle in the Senate," Lee said. Perdue announced that Lee would be an assistant floor leader in the Senate when the Legislature convenes in January. Sen. Bill Stephens (R-Canton) will be the governor's floor leader, Perdue said. The floor leader carries the governor's legislation on the Senate floor, while the assistant floor leaders line up votes for the governor's initiatives. Perdue, who himself switched from the Democratic to the Republican party in 1998, welcomed Lee to the fold. "We are here to work for the people of Georgia, not against anybody," Perdue said. Lee, who was elected to the Senate in 1998, said that other Democratic senators who do not intend the switch had pledged to work with the Republican administration. Perdue rode a strong rural vote to victory over Gov. Roy Barnes Tuesday, and the GOP has been working aggressively to court rural and small-town Democrats since then. Lee's conversion was the first of two expected today. Sen. Don Cheeks is expected to announce his switch this afternoon when Perdue's airplane arrives in Cheeks' hometown of Augusta. Adding those two senators to the GOP will give the Republicans a 28-28 split, just one vote shy of their first majority in modern times. Negotiations are under way with other legislators to give the Republicans a majority. Lee was a strong candidate for a switch from the start. He was at odds with the Democratic leadership in the past several years, most notably over redistricting last year. He complained bitterly about his district being divided up in an effort to strengthen Democratic candidates elsewhere. This is state level..but, it has started. [b][blue]NAKED[/blue][/b]
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