State Rep. Doug McKillip, who was recently elected chairman of the Democratic caucus, has changed parties and joined the GOP - the seventh state lawmaker to make the switch since Election Day.
The Athens lawmaker says he spoke to House Speaker David Ralston on Monday and made the decision after wrestling with the party switch for some time.
As a Republican, McKillip says he hopes to protect Athens' interests, including funding for the University of Georgia and HOPE scholarship. McKillip says Democrats have been ineffective since Republicans took control of the state's two chambers in 2004.
In Georgia, six other rural Democratic state legislators - five from the House and one in the Senate - have switched allegiance since Nov. 2.