Buford Republican plans challenge to Georgia’s House speaker


A Buford Republican lawmaker has announced his intent to challenge the Georgia House speaker for leadership in the chamber.

State Rep. David Clark said the leadership of House Speaker David Ralston, who’s led the party since 2010, will cause them to lose more seats in the chamber. Democrats flipped 11 House seats in the 2018 election.

“November 3 will tell a lot,” Clark said. “I know I can lay out a better vision for the party than he can.”

Ralston declined to comment on Clark’s plans, saying he’s focused on next week’s election. Both Ralston and Clark have Democratic challengers in next week’s election. Ralston is facing the same opponent he easily defeated in 2018 with more than 84% of the vote. Clark, who was elected in 2014, has never faced a general election challenge.

The election will determine which party holds control of the House for the next two years. Democrats are fighting to pick up 16 seats to become the majority party for the first time in 15 years. Each party’s caucus will elect it’s leadership in November.

But with the historic number of absentee ballots cast in this year’s election, state officials have warned the public that results in close races — many of which include state House races — may not be decided on election night. A record number of absentee ballots introduces the possibility that candidates leading on election night could fall behind as more votes are tabulated in the following days.

Clark made headlines last year when he led a group of 10 Republican lawmakers who asked Ralston, a defense attorney, to step down as speaker after an investigation by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Channel 2 Action News found he frequently delayed criminal cases by claiming court dates interfered with his legislative duties.

Clark said he believes he can beat Ralston in the caucus elections.

“I’m a veteran. I’m a millennial. I live in metro Atlanta. And I grew up on a farm. I can go anywhere,” he said. “I think I have a real shot, especially with a secret ballot. Time will tell. I’m a team player and always have been.”

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