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Perdue, state lawmakers kick off new session
Sonny Perdue
Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue reviews the troops outside the Capitol, Monday, Jan 8, 2007, in Atlanta, during his inauguration ceremonies. Perdue was sworn in Monday for a second term as governor. - photo by Associated Press
ATLANTA — Gov. Sonny Perdue took the helm Monday for a second term as governor, saying he was ‘‘humbled by history’’ and promising to leave Georgia on firm footing for the generations to come.
    ‘‘I am making a solemn pledge and commitment to every Georgian to ensure that the foundation for the future is in place, that it’s rock solid and secure,’’ Perdue said.
    Perdue invoked his children and grandchildren throughout his address which he referred to as a ‘‘State of the Future.’’
    ‘‘I want to hand off a well run state,’’ the governor said. ‘‘One whose principles will endure beyond a change in leadership. One whose children are at the top of their national class. One who is operating with strong conservative fiscal policies and one who is moving forward with momentum.’’
    Perdue and other constitutional officers were sworn in before thousands of spectators at the cavernous Philips arena.
    The governor took the oath of office on a Bible open to a verse from the Book of Joshua.
    ‘‘As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord,’’ Perdue said quoting from the Scripture.
    Cannons from the Georgia National Guard rattled windows of nearby Atlanta office buildings with a 19-gun salute. The choir from Perdue’s own Woodstock Baptist Church sang ‘‘Battle Hymn of the Republic.’’
    Perdue, who made history as Georgia’s first Republican governor since Reconstruction, summoned three of his Democratic predecessors — Carl Sanders, Joe Frank Harris and Zell Miller — to join him briefly at the podium.
    State Sen. Casey Cagle was also sworn in Monday as Georgia’s first Republican lieutenant governor. He choked up as he introduced his family.
    ‘‘Today I reaffirm my commitment to you that I will always give you my best,’’ Cagle told the crowd.
    Perdue began the day at a morning prayer service at Northside United Methodist Church was Perdue’s son, the Rev. Jim Perdue. He exhorted his father to be God’s man.
    ‘‘Dwelling on God’s holy hill is better than dwelling on Capitol Hill any day,’’ the younger Perdue said.
    The pomp and ceremony of the inauguration came on the same day as state lawmakers returned to work under the state Capitol’s gold dome.
    Lawmakers handled mostly legislative housekeeping duties as they returned to work. But the day did have its fireworks. The state Democratic Party filed an ethics complaint on Monday alleging that House Speaker Glenn Richardson had an ‘‘inappropriate’’ relationship with a female lobbyist for Atlanta Gas Light at the same time he co-sponsored a bill financing a $300 million pipeline for the utility.
    Richardson and Senate President pro-tem Eric Johnson were re-elected by their peers — but in dramatically different fashion.
    In the Senate, Johnson was selected in a unanimous vote in which Sen. Robert Brown, leader of the chamber’s minority Democrats, seconded his nomination.
    In the House, Richardson faced a more fractious assembly. He won his second term by a 113-66 vote, earning the support of at least seven Democrats who crossed party lines rather than cast a ballot for their party’s candidate, House Minority Leader DuBose Porter.
    The Senate also reworked its rules in anticipation of Cagle’s swearing-in. During the past four years, Democratic Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor presided over the GOP-controlled chamber, prompting leaders to strip him of many of the office’s traditional duties.
    On Monday, the Senate voted 44-10 to hand those duties — including appointing committee chairmen and deciding which committee handles each piece of legislation — back to Cagle.
    Following his inauguration, Perdue spent about 20 minutes reviewing troops from the Georgia National Guard and Georgia State Patrol before he was to don a tuxedo for the ball at the Georgia World Congress Center, also in downtown Atlanta.
    Twenty-thousand invitations were sent out for the party and swearing in ceremony, with each invitee able to ask for four tickets. Tickets to the ball are $50 apiece.
    Perdue was an unlikely giant slayer at his last inauguration, which marked a turning point in Georgia’s political landscape. Perdue had pulled off a stunning upset of Democrat Roy Barnes and the GOP was in its ascendancy.
    This year, the Republicans have the swagger of a party that is firmly in charge. They now control both chambers of the state Legislature and picked up the vacant lieutenant governor and secretary of state posts in the elections.
    The inaugural is being paid for by private donations. The contributions will be detailed after the event. Perdue raised $1.4 million for his first inaugural bash, when more than 200 contributors donated up to $50,000 each.
    Associated Press reporters Doug Gross and Greg Bluestein in Atlanta contributed to this report.
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