But it was his Jan. 26 vote against the midyear spending plan – which passed the House by a 173-1 vote – that raised the ire of Deal’s office and other Republican leaders. Gurtler said he took Riley’s words as an affront to his district.
“Not only did Mr. Riley threaten me, he threatened my entire constituency, some 50,000 plus Georgians in the 8th District,” said Gurtler.
State Sen. Josh McKoon, a Columbus Republican who has also infuriated Deal’s office, defended Gurtler in the state Senate on Tuesday. He said Gurtler was victim to a “sick and twisted” culture at the Capitol. McKoon, too, has been on the wrong end of a funding fight with Deal’s office.
The governor has largely had warm relations with the legislative branch since his 2010 election, though his vetoes of controversial measures last year could strain those ties.
His spokeswoman Jen Talaber Ryan said Deal’s office has long prided itself on its ability to work with legislators who disagree with him.
“If meaningful discussions on important issues can’t be had,” she said, “then why are we here?”