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For Richardson, tax cut loss is bitter after statewide campaign
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    ATLANTA — House Speaker Glenn Richardson aimed big when he began his one-man campaign to bring tax reform to Georgia: erase the state’s property tax.
    But one year later the state Legislature wrapped up a tumultuous legislative session that didn’t deliver a single significant tax cut. And Richardson was in a familar position — blowing up at fellow Republican leaders.
    The combative politician who ended last year’s session by accusing Gov. Sonny Perdue of showing his ‘‘backside,’’ this year challenged Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle to ‘‘stand up and be a man.’’
    ‘‘Time to get a new lieutenant governor in this state,’’ he told House lawmakers as he called for Cagle’s ouster.
    Cagle suggested that Richardson had been ‘‘blinded by ego.’’ And Perdue scolded him like a misbehaving child. ‘‘The Speaker’s tirades blame everyone but himself,’’ Perdue said.
    So much for Republican unity. The feud over tax cuts again exposed fault lines among the Georgia party’s leaders.
    But it is Richardson, the lawyer from Hiram, that always appears to be at the center of the fray.
    He set the tone for the session with his chamber’s first action: 12 override votes of Perdue’s vetoes from the year before. That came just days after a statewide tour with the governor aimed at projecting a unified front.
    Who will ultimately be held responsible for killing tax cuts in Georgia this year is still anyone’s guess.
    The House blames Cagle, who they argue refused to negotiate on the car tax. Cagle and the Senate GOP point to Richardson, who would not sign off on a property tax cap that both sides agreed on because he stubbornly wanted his car tax.
    But Richardson had made himself the face of tax reform as he traveled the state last year pushing his ill-fated property tax plan. His inability to come through with any kind of tax relief after promising a radical shake up of Georgia’s taxes could hurt him, experts said.
    House Majority Leader Jerry Keen said the GOP’s base is behind Richardson even if some party leaders who campaigned as fiscal conservatives are not.
    ‘‘This is a guy who worked on this for over a year,’’ Keen said. ‘‘Of course he’s frustrated.’’
    ‘‘But he is where the party is on this. He and the party are fine.’’
    Cagle and Richardson are both seen as potential gubernatorial candidates in 2010. So the bitter finger pointing that surfaced on the session’s final day could be a harbinger of things to come at the state Capitol as Perdue nears the end of his second term.
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