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Friday, December 11, 2009 - 4:06am

Perdue: House GOP Legislators Will "Get It Right"

State House Republicans met today for the first time in person since House Speaker Glenn Richardson resigned following allegations he had an affair with a lobbyist.

Friday's meeting was the first time Republicans have met face-to-face since Richardson's suicide attempt and subsequent allegations by his ex-wife of an affair with a lobbyist.

Four Republicans have expressed interest in replacing Richardson, who is set to step down January 1.

The media was barred from entering the meeting, although not all the Republicans agreed with the move.

Representative Bobby Franklin made a motion to keep the meeting open to the public.

But Franklin was easily outnumbered, and the 100 or so Republicans met for three hours behind closed doors, during which they apparently discussed the future of the Republican house leadership.

After the meeting ended, current majority leader Jerry Keen said he thought it went well.

"It was a great meeting -- like a family had to get some things out in the air. There were a lot of things people needed to know that they didn't know, and there were some questions about what transpired over the past two weeks," Keen says.

But not all is harmonious in this family of Republicans, and some circulated a petiton to replace the entire caucus leadership, including the majority leader. Representative David Ralston, who is vying to become the next speaker, says he signed the petition.

"The House needs change. I think we need to tell Georgians that we have changed. We're going to change the way we behave, we're going to change some rules of conduct," Ralston says.

Gov. Sonny Perdue, who addressed the House caucus at today's meeting, says he's confident that House Republican legislators will "get it right" as they select new leadership to replace Richardson.

Perdue called House Republicans "a little unsteady right now," but said they would recover, adding that "representative government is not all that neat sometimes."

The Republican caucus is set to meet again next week to elect a speaker and speaker pro tem. Meanwhile, many ethic laws are expected to make their way through the legislature, which starts next month.

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