Johnson elected regional whip by Democratic Caucus

When the 111th Congress convenes this week, one of Gwinnett's representatives will have a pretty good seat at the table.

U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson, the Atlanta man whose district includes parts of Lilburn and Norcross, was elected regional whip by the Democratic Caucus.

That means he has a leadership role in gathering support for legislation from congressmen from Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama, the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.

Johnson's election to the position came just days after Barack Obama won the presidential election, so he'll be in a key position to help move the president-elect's agenda.

And, in a press release, Johnson said the position will help him lend a greater voice to the residents of his district.

"I am humbled and proud that my colleagues honored me with this position," Johnson said. "It came as a complete surprise. I'm looking forward to working with Majority Whip (James) Clyburn and the entire leadership team as we take on the challenges of moving this nation forward in these tough times."

Clyburn, from South Carolina, had words of praise for the second-term congressman.

"As a freshman legislator, Congressman Johnson has shown outstanding leadership qualities," Clyburn said. "A former criminal defense attorney, judge and local public official, he brought unique skills to Congress and he has gained the respect of his colleagues. Very few one-term members are selected for this role, and since he did not seek it out, his election is testament to the confidence his colleagues place in him. We expect a very busy legislative agenda in the 111th (Congress) and his assistance will be key to our efforts."

According to the press release, the term "Whip" comes from the British Parliament, which adapted it from a fox-hunting job - the "Whipper-in," who is the rider that keeps the hounds focused on their mission.

Political Notebook appears in the Thursday and Sunday editions of the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Camie Young can be reached via e-mail at camie.young@gwinnettdailypost.com.