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Political notebook: Democratic leader predicts 'explosive battle' under Gold Dome

The General Assembly has not yet been called into session, and the gloves are already off.

Sen. Robert Brown, the minority leader, said Friday the governor made a mistake by not calling a special session last year to address the state's looming financial crisis.

The decision, he said, left lawmakers "with little choice other than falling in line like lemmings behind their leader, who saw fit to seek economic solutions not at the Gold Dome, but in Red China at the very moment he was evicting some of the very veterans who made our freedom possible from their home in Milledgeville."

Even worse than the financial woes, Brown predicted an "explosive battle" over vouchers, but he said he was "cautiously optimistic" about creating a statewide transportation plan.

He said he believed common ground to be found on the plan as well as moves to create a trauma care network for the state.

Brown, of Macon, said he would not "whine" about the lieutenant governor's decision to take chairmanship of the special judiciary committee away from Democrats, but he said it could be reviewed again in a few years.

While Republicans are still clearly the majority in the General Assembly, it could be interesting to see how Democrats use the growing national political spotlight to create waves in Georgia.

Senators support Israel

Georgia's two senators last week said they support the military actions taken by Israel in the Gaza strip.

"The United States and Israel share common principles and a strong commitment to eradicate terrorism and secure a better future for the world," U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss said. "Israel has been a steadfast ally of the United States, and I assure you, the U.S. will stand ready to assist our friends, the Israelis, to promote peace, defeat terrorism, and prevent hostile countries that sponsor terrorism from obtaining nuclear weapons...

"I do hope that this conflict will soon come to a peaceful conclusion. Nevertheless, and let me be clear, Israel has every right to defend its citizens while taking precautions, to the extent possible, to spare the civilian population in Gaza and reduce collateral damage.

U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, who visited the area in 2007, said he believed Israel was doing what it should to protect its people.

"As long as Hamas is unwilling to enter into a meaningful peace agreement that can be trusted and verified and make a meaningful effort to stop the terror, then Israel is doing precisely what it should be doing in the best interest of its people," he said in a speech on the Senate floor. "It is doing no less than we in this United States Congress and America would do were we attacked in the same way."

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.