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Friday, January 4, 2013 - 12:00pm

Will The GOP Stay United?

Republicans will return to the Capitol next month most likely with a supermajority in the state Senate and one vote shy of one in the state House. But experts say divisions might emerge among the ranks.

With such a strong presence in both chambers, Republicans can arguably pursue their agenda without interference.

For example, they can propose and likely pass constitutional amendments without Democratic support.

But experts say that doesn’t rule out disagreements.

Charles Bullock is a University of Georgia political science professor. He says divisions may arise because of regional differences or over specific issues.

“One thing we’ve seen play out over the last several months involves this issue of charter schools where the Governor and legislative leaders have been very supportive of charter schools but the school superintendent ended up on the other side of that,” he said, referring to superintendent John Barge, who advocated against the amendment.

Republicans have already squared off over an ethics bill that would cap lobbyists’ contributions to elected officials at $100. Such divisions suggest the GOP could face the same challenges Democrats confronted when they were in the majority, says Kerwin Swint, a political science professor at Kennesaw State University.

“It’ll be interesting to see what they’re able to do with the [supermajority]," he said in an interview. "Will there be enough consensus to make constitutional changes or will they have divisions just like the Democrats used to that prevents them from acting?”

Republicans have also disagreed about the 2011 immigration crackdown, which rural lawmakers say hurt farmers.