Farewell Speeches among Highlights of Sine Die
Thursday, April 7th, 2022
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Monday was the final day of the 2022 Legislative session. But it was more than just another “Sine Die” for many top lawmakers in the state. While lawmakers were busy passing bills in the House and Senate, many were taking time to give their farewell speeches, possibly making their last appearance in the well.
Among those saying their goodbyes – and possibly the most sentimental – was the Dean of the House, Rep. Calvin Smyre. Monday brought closure to 48 years in the Georgia House of Representatives, ending his run as the longest-serving member of the Georgia legislature. The 74-year-old Democrat was first elected to the House of Representatives in 1974 but is now headed for new ground. President Joe Biden has tapped Smyre to serve as the U.S. Ambassador to the Dominican Republic, and he awaits confirmation from the U.S. Senate.
Smyre spoke for more than an hour in his final address – thanking everyone from Republican House Speaker David Ralston to the house doorkeepers. After his farewell talk, Smyre embraced Ralston.
“You measure your career by how you honor this institution, and I honor the House of Representatives,” Smyre said. “And I shall always. It’s been such a great ride. I’ve seen so many of y’all and gotten to know you and appreciate you over the years. I have some great memories and some dear friends.”
Smyre told his colleagues, and many lobbyists who gathered around the large screen hallways in the halls of the Capitol, about a summer day in the local library that changed his course. Smyre said he came across Dale Wimbrow Sr.’s poem “The Guy in the Glass,” which focuses on integrity and being honest with yourself. “’You can fool the whole world down the pathway of years and get pats on the back as you pass. But your final reward will be heartaches and tears if you’ve cheated the guy in the glass,’” Smyre said from the poem. “I told myself then never, ever would I cheat myself.”
On the other side of the Capitol halls, Georgia’s Lt. Governor Geoff Duncan, took almost an hour to address members of the Senate in his farewell address. Duncan chose not to seek re-election this year.
Duncan seemed to get emotional during his talk to members of the Senate and continued to urge lawmakers to put “policy over politics.” That is the phrase he ran on four years ago, and said repeatedly during his term in office. Duncan took time to describe how his family endured the unrelenting attacks against him by the former president and his supporters.
“I believe now more than ever, that doing the right thing will never be the wrong thing,” he said.
Other lawmakers leaving their seats also had time in the well to pay their respects to their colleagues and say their goodbyes. Some are running for higher office, including Sen. Tyler Harper, who is the Republican nominee for Ag Commissioner; Sen. Jen Jordan, who is running for the Democratic nomination for Attorney General, Bee Nguyen, Democratic candidate for Secretary of State, Sen. Bruce Thompson, who is running for the Republican nomination for Labor Commissioner, and many others.
Sen. Jeff Mullis, Chairman of the Senate Rules Committee, surprised many this year, when he announced that he would not seek reelection. The Senate roasted Mullis earlier in the week and the Senate’s actions had Mullis in tears as his current, and many former Senate colleagues came to acknowledge his work for more than 20 years.