A Georgia senator was exiled from the GOP caucus. Now Colton Moore is banned from the state House

Estimated read time 3 min read

ATLANTA (AP) — Colton Moore’s political career has been about setting legislative norms on fire. The Republican Georgia state senator left another one ablaze on Thursday.

Moore, who lives in Trenton in the state’s far northwest corner, was banned from the House floor after launching a slashing attack on the memory of House Speaker David Ralston on a day when Ralston, who died in 2022, was being honored in both the House and Senate chambers.

Moments after Gov. Brian Kemp and former Govs. Nathan Deal and Sonny Perdue praised the longtime speaker as his portrait was unveiled in the House on what would have been Ralston’s 70th birthday, Moore spoke in the Senate to oppose a resolution supporting naming a building for Ralston on the University of North Georgia campus in Blue Ridge.

“This body is about to perpetually memorialize one of the most corrupt Georgia leaders we’ll ever see in our lifetimes,” Moore said, as some of Ralston’s relatives and supporters watched from the Senate balcony.

The remarks created such a stir that Lt. Gov. Burt Jones eventually cut Moore off, telling him “Senator, senator, not the time or place.” The top-ranking Republican senator, President Pro Tem John F. Kennedy of Macon, took to the floor to apologize to Ralston’s family, saying he and other senators felt “sincere embarrassment” at Moore’s conduct.

A short time later, Ralston’s successor, Republican House Speaker Jon Burns of Newington, denounced Moore’s remarks as “some of the vilest that you can make about a good man” and ordered the House doorkeepers to bar Moore from entering.

“His comments impugned the integrity of my dear friend, and we all know they were not true,” Burns said, before getting a standing ovation from House members.

Normally, members of the House and Senate are allowed to enter each other’s chamber.

Moore is the same senator who was kicked out of the Senate Republican caucus in September after launching attacks on fellow Republicans for their refusal to agree to with his call for a special session to take action against Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis for indicting former President Donald Trump. The usually buttoned-up Kemp denounced the call as “ some grifter scam ” to raise campaign contributions for Moore in a feisty news conference.

Moore defeated an incumbent Republican to win a House seat in 2018 primary, but he was getting warnings even before he took office about criticizing other lawmakers as he voiced distrust of how things were done under gold dome of Georgia’s Capitol.

Moore was quick to tangle with Ralston once taking office. He became one of 10 right-wing Republicans to call for Ralston to resign over allegations that Ralston used his privileges as a lawmaker to delay court cases to unfairly benefit his legal clients. Ralston denied wrongdoing, but most of his critics left the House.

That was the issue that Moore’s Thursday speech centered on, alleging Ralston had “no semblance of morality” and that “the speaker turned a blind eye to what we as legislators know to be truth.”

Moore exited the House in 2020, launching an unsuccessful Republican primary bid against longtime state Sen. Jeff Mullis of Chickamauga, another target of Moore’s ire. But Moore won Mullis’ old seat after the longtime lawmaker decided to step down following the 2022 session.