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Perdue inauguration is historic

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January 13, 2003

 

 (Atlanta-AP) -- Sonny Perdue is now Georgia's first Republican governor in more than a century. Perdue took his oath of office this afternoon, raising a cheer from the crowd at Philips Arena in Atlanta.  The new governor pledges not to let the historic party shiftdisrupt state government.

 

   Meanwhile, state Republicans are waiting only for the opening

gavels of the Legislature to take over the Senate and to fight for

a share of power in the House.

 

   Lawmakers are returning to a Capitol reeling from an election

two months ago that gave Republicans the governor's office and

control of the Senate.

 

   Democrats still hold the House, but Perdue is putting the power

of his office behind an effort to defeat the Democratic nominee for

speaker -- Representative Terry Coleman, and to elect a candidate

friendlier to his cause.

 

   Perdue's candidate was Representative Larry Walker of Perry --

also a Democrat, but a friend of the new Republican governor's and

a fellow middle Georgian.

 

   Perdue's agenda includes a referendum on the flag and redrawing

the election districts that majority Democrats designed last year

to favor themselves.

 

   Today, the new Republican majority will begin flexing its

muscle, first with a rules change to strip Democratic Lieutenant

Governor Mark Taylor of his power to appoint committees.

 

   That power will be given to a new three-member committee on

committees composed of Republican Senator Eric Johnson of Savannah,

Tom Price of Roswell and Taylor.

 

   That means many top Democratic chairmen will lose their posts,

including Appropriations Committee Chairman George Hooks of

Americus. Expected to run that committee under the Republican

majority is one of the four party-switchers, Senator Jack Hill of

Reidsville.

 

 

        Several hundred people gathered this morning for an inaugural
prayer service for Perdue at Atlanta's Church of the Apostles.
 

   Chick-fil-A founder Truett Cathy and Georgia football coach Mark

Richt were among the speakers. Perdue's 25-year-old son, Jim

Perdue, gave the sermon.

 

   Jim Perdue told his father, "You've been elected to

the highest office in the state, but you've also been elected the

highest servant in the state."

 

   The prayer service, held prior to the inauguration ceremony, is

a tradition set by many incoming governors. Perdue will take office

as Georgia's 81st governor today.

 

   Richt gave the benediction. Perdue was a non-scholarship

football player at UGA and has become friends with Georgia's new

head coach.

updated at 2:30PM by dave.miller@walb.com

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