January 3: U.S. Congress convenes

U.S. Rep. Earl L. “Buddy” Carter

Republican Buddy Carter will be sworn in for a fifth term representing Coastal Georgia in the U.S. House of Representatives, following his landslide victory in November over Democrat Wade Herring.

After being in the minority for four years, the GOP will have a nine-seat majority in the House, which means the Democratic Party’s grip on the three centers of legislative power in Washington — the White House, the Senate, and the House of Representatives — will end.

Rather than a recipe for gridlock, Carter told an audience in Brunswick last month that divided government “works better.”

But Carter and other Republicans will have to wait to test that proposition. Rather than hitting the ground running, as they’d hoped, they’re embroiled over the choice of Kevin McCarthy as the new Speaker of the House and scandal over a new member.

Why McCarthy’s fate matters for Carter: The former Pooler mayor has steadfastly supported the California Republican’s pursuit of the speaker’s chair. If McCarthy doesn’t prevail in the speaker’s race, Carter’s quest to head the powerful Budget Committee could suffer, too.

January 5: Swearing-in for new Savannah-Chatham County school board president

Roger Moss

Roger Moss will be sworn in as the new Savannah-Chatham County school board president at a ceremony at H.V. Jenkins High School at 6 p.m. Moss won a four-year term thanks to support from voters from across the political and ideological spectrum. Now comes the hard part: how to juggle all those competing interests in what has become a new battlefront in the nation’s cultural wars.

January 9: The Georgia General Assembly convenes for its 40-day legislative session, and Brian Kemp is sworn in again as governor.

Georgia Rep. Jon Burns

Kemp will present a proposed budget this month and by law, it must be balanced. The legislature has to approve it by a simple majority, a process that’s helped by the fact that the GOP controls the governor’s office and both chambers of the legislature.

No incumbent lawmaker from Coastal Georgia lost their election in November, so the region’s delegation in Atlanta will look no different. What has changed is the leadership, starting with Rep. Jon Burns, who represents about half of Effingham County. He succeeds the late David Ralston as speaker of the House, the second most powerful political office in the state. How that affects the legislative process remains to be seen.

Fighting crime is already on the governor’s mind, tweeting two days before Christmas: “Far-left local prosecutors are failing their constituents and making our communities less safe. I look forward to working with members of the General Assembly and @ChrisCarr_Ga to address it this session!”

How lawmakers planning to attend the national championship game between the Georgia Bulldogs and TCU Horned Frogs in Los Angeles Monday evening also remains to be seen.

June 9-10: Georgia GOP holds its state convention in Columbus

The annual conventions of both parties culminate a process of selecting delegates that starts earlier in the spring at a precinct level. The Republican gathering is expected to be fraught with lingering tensions and anger over the role of Donald Trump and 2020 voting.

The Atlanta offices of the state Democratic Party didn’t return phone calls requesting information on its convention plans for 2023.

Nov. 7: Municipal elections

Mayoral and city council seats will be contested in some Coastal Georgia cities. In Savannah, Mayor Van Johnson is expected to face at-large city council member Kesha Gibson-Carter. All nine council seats also will be on the ballot.

Craig Nelson is a former international correspondent for The Associated Press, the Sydney (Australia) Morning-Herald, Cox Newspapers and The Wall Street Journal. He also served as foreign editor for The...