Rogers was in attendance at the meeting of Republican senators in south Georgia where Sen. David Schafer of Duluth was elected president pro tem and the governor’s floor leader, Sen. Ronnie Chance of Tyrone, was chosen to replace Rogers.
Rogers immediately sent out a release saying he wanted to spend more time with his family and decided not to contend for the leadership slot.
Rogers said in the release. “I am honored to have served four years in leading the Republican majority. After months of consideration I ultimately decided that the toll of serving my caucus was taking too much from my family. While I had no challengers for the position of majority leader, the decision was still clear to me. Leadership positions should never become permanent and I am very supportive of our new majority leader and my good friend, Sen. Chance.” A source familiar with the situation, however, told the Cherokee Tribune that it was not a case of Rogers stepping down.
According to the source: “The press release implies that Chip had decided he wasn’t going to run for majority leader, which opened up a seat and Ronnie Chance decided in the last two minutes that he would graciously put his name in because somebody has to be majority leader. It didn’t play out that way. … The handwriting was on the wall that Chip wasn’t going to get re-elected. There’s a lot of issues, internally and externally, you’ve read about some of them in the campaign. … The current leadership did not continue to have the support of the majority of the Republican Caucus, so they’ve stepped aside to allow a new group of leaders to lead the state moving forward.”
Rogers’ spokesperson, Robert Trim, said that the senator wanted time to coach his 12-year-old son’s traveling basketball team.
“He is absolutely ecstatic to go coach his son’s team,” Trim said. “It’s been something he’s been considering … he hadn’t made a final decision until probably last night. It is something that has been a conversation for some time now.”
In September, following July’s primaries, Schafer and Chance began to surface as likely candidates to replace the leadership in the Senate.
Rogers was among the senators who two years ago maneuvered to remove some of the lieutenant governor’s powers and give them to the Senate itself.
During the election this year, allegations that Rogers was a former sports handicapper surfaced.
Rogers was also criticized for his involvement in a loan he received to remodel the Oglethorpe Inn in Calhoun.
The senator, along with U.S. Rep. Tom Graves, were sued by the former Bartow County Bank in 2010 for failure to make payments on a $2.3 million loan they took out in 2007 to buy and renovate the hotel, but said they later settled the matter by repaying $1.2 million.
The change in Rogers’ status at the Capitol also comes three days after a video of him holding a meeting about Agenda 21 surfaced.
“We are pleased to see that Georgia Republicans have drawn a line in the sand on crazy,” said Bryan Long, executive director for Better Georgia, the group that released the tape. “We have serious, real problems facing Georgia next year, and we are encouraged that Georgia Republicans will start working on them in earnest. We need our elected officials focusing on issues that actually exist.”
— Staff writer Jon Gillooly contributed to this report