ATLANTA – Georgia Senate Republicans kicked off a series of post-election leadership meetings in the General Assembly Friday, nominating a new Senate president pro tempore and electing new caucus leaders.

GA Sen. John Kennedy

Senate Republicans, who lost one seat to the Democrats in Tuesday’s election but still hold a 33-23 majority, nominated Sen. John Kennedy of Macon president pro tempore. If elected by the full Senate on the first day of the 2023 session in January, Kennedy would succeed Sen. Butch Miller of Gainesville, who left the Senate in an unsuccessful bid for lieutenant governor.

Capitol Beat News Service
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The GOP Caucus also elected Sen. Steve Gooch of Dahlonega majority leader, Sen. Jason Anavitarte of Dallas caucus chairman, Sen. Randy Robertson of Cataula caucus whip, Sen. Matt Brass of Newnan caucus vice whip, and Sen. Dean Burke of Bainbridge caucus treasurer.

Kennedy – subject to January’s Senate vote – and Gooch are getting promotions. Kennedy has been serving as Republican Caucus chairman, while Gooch has been the GOP whip.

But the biggest promotion goes to Sen. Burt Jones, R-Jackson, who was elected lieutenant governor on Tuesday after defeating Miller in the Republican primary last May. Georgia’s lieutenant governors preside over the state Senate, overseeing the flow of legislation and making committee assignments.

Despite rumors that disgruntled senators might try to take away some of the lieutenant governor’s powers, the Republican Caucus voted Friday to leave the status quo in place as Jones assumes the position.

“I am proud that our caucus acted quickly after Tuesday’s election to handle our internal business and move forward together,” Kennedy said Friday. “State Senate Republicans will begin our preparations for the 2023 legislative session with common purpose and a renewed sense of optimism for the results we can deliver on behalf of the people of Georgia.”

There is precedent in the Georgia Senate for stripping lieutenant governors of their powers. When Republicans took control of the Senate in a flurry of party switching immediately following the 2002 elections, the new GOP majority voted to reduce the authority enjoyed by then-Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor, a Democrat.

This story is available through a news partnership with Capitol Beat News Service, a project of the Georgia Press Educational Foundation.

Dave Williams is bureau chief for Capitol Beat News Service, a service of the Georgia Press Education Foundation.