Wed., November 3, 2010 4:33pm (EDT)

Many New Faces Coming To Capitol
By Orlando Montoya
Updated: 3 years ago

SAVANNAH, Ga.  —  
Change could be in store for the General Assembly next year.  But it doesn't have to do with party.  There's a high number of new members coming into office.  (photo J Glover)
Change could be in store for the General Assembly next year. But it doesn't have to do with party. There's a high number of new members coming into office. (photo J Glover)
Republicans increased their majorities in the State House and Senate Tuesday.

A high number of new faces could complicate next year's General Assembly.

Republicans gained three seats in the 180 member state House and one in the 56 member state Senate.

About 20% of the members in both chambers will be new because of a high number of vacancies and retirements.

One of the new faces is Republican Alex Atwood of St. Simons Island.

He took the seat held by retiring House Majority Leader Jerry Keen.

Atwood says, as a freshman, he has a lot of learning to do.

"Because you walk in there really low on the food chain," Atwood says. "So, you need to be as bright as you can."

Veteran lawmakers say, the number of new members could cause stress and tension for the leadership since they come with their own ideas about how things should be run

It might take a session or two for that to settle down.

Former lawmaker and lobbyist Rusty Paul says, the number of freshmen could make for an unwieldy session.

"Being a newly elected official, you worry about every vote," Paul says. "So, I think there's going be a lot of stress and tension. Things are not going to be nice and orderly like you would have if you had a more experienced group of people in. But they'll learn quickly."

And then just in time for them to learn, it'll be time for redistricting, when things will shuffle up again.

Overall, few incumbents faced the prospect of losing Tuesday.

The rare exceptions were Marietta State Representative Pat Dooley, a Democrat, and Atlanta State Representative Jill Chambers, a Republican.

The Secretary of State's website on Wednesday had them both losing their races with 100% of the votes counted.

The GOP hold in both chambers is enough to pass legislation, but not enough to amend the state constitution, which requires a two-thirds vote.