Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Democrats Pick Leader in House; DuBose Porter of Dublin Urges Focus on Health Care Funding, Education and Other Working-Class Issues

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Democrats Pick Leader in House; DuBose Porter of Dublin Urges Focus on Health Care Funding, Education and Other Working-Class Issues

Article excerpt

Byline: BRIAN BASINGER, The Times-Union

ATLANTA -- Nearly two weeks after being thrown out of power by voters, House Democrats on Wednesday picked a longtime Middle Georgia lawmaker to lead their party amid its new minority status.

Rep. DuBose Porter, D-Dublin, received unanimous support from his party to be the next House minority leader, ending speculation that a fellow Democrat from Atlanta might challenge him for the post.

Porter, a 51-year-old attorney and newspaper editor, pledged to bring unity to his party, which was deeply divided in the last legislative session over a proposed constitutional ban on gay marriage, among other issues.

Speaking to a Democratic House Caucus that's now almost half black and has many fewer rural whites that in the past, Porter asked his colleagues to search for common ground.

"What binds the hillbillies and the rednecks, black and white, rich and poor? It's our heart. It's our Democratic Party heart," said Porter, who won his first election to the House in 1982. "Our diversity is our strength. Let's use it better and come together with one voice on our issues, which we know are right."

Republicans, who have controlled the Senate and the governor's mansion since 2002, completed their takeover of the Capitol in this year's elections by gaining 20 seats in the House, giving them 96 of the chamber's 180 seats. Three more South Georgia Democrats switched parties in the following days to give the GOP a 99-seat majority.

Both the GOP and Democrats agree turmoil over social issues -- such as gay marriage, abortion and the Ten Commandments -- contributed to the Republicans' success.

To win back power in future elections, Porter urged his fellow Democrats to focus on fighting for health care funding, education and other working-class issues in the upcoming legislative session that begins Jan. …

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