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Georgia congressman at center of US House drama

Rep. Andrew Clyde is among anti-McCarthy GOP holdouts.

SUWANEE, Ga. — One Georgia congressman is at the center of a weeklong drama that has stalled the start of the new session of congress.  US Rep. Andrew Clyde of Athens is a Republican representing a northeast Georgia district that includes much of Gwinnett County.  

Clyde may be best known for describing the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol as a “normal tourist visit.”  Now the second-term congressman is part of the small group of republicans that have stopped the work of the U.S. House of Representatives.

"We’ve got a group of 20 people, including a congressman here in north Georgia, that want to hold the entire -- not just the (GOP) conference, but the country hostage over something like this," TJ Dearman, the Jackson County Republican chairman, said Thursday.  

Dearman said he’s generally an admirer of the conservative politics of Andrew Clyde, the gun store owner turned congressman among the Republicans denying the required majority to name US Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-California) the next House speaker. 

"He’s a good man. His intentions are in the right place but -- cut it out," Dearman said.  "Address the issues you were elected on."

Some of Clyde's constituents were similarly dismayed.  "I’m not thrilled with it at all. The twenty that are holding out need to compromise," said Bonnie Gottschling of Buford, who says she supported Clyde's runs for office but is losing patience with him now.

"I’m tired of them not coming together -- both parties, Democrat and Republican," said Bonnie's husband, Mike Gottschling.  "At this point, I’m a registered Republican but my wife and I have been talking about registering independent. I’m tired of the politicking going on in Washington."

"The kind of sad thing is that 20 people can whip around the whole Republican party," said Harry Kannapell, a Gainesville resident who says he voted against Clyde.  "Personally I think they brought it on themselves. They have encouraged that kind of thing ever since Newt Gingrich. And now it’s coming back to roost."

Gingrich was a congressman from Georgia who brought incendiary politics to a new level in Washington in the 1970s and 80s.  He eventually became Speaker of the House himself.

"I have known Kevin (McCarthy)," said Jason Shepherd, the former Cobb County GOP chairman who says he worked with McCarthy early in their careers. "I know what he’s capable of,  and he would be a fantastic speaker."

Shepherd says he's watching the drama in Washington play out with increasing dismay.  "With each subsequent day and with each ballot, it gets harder and harder to see a path to victory for Kevin McCarthy."

11Alive News has requested an interview with Rep. Clyde.  His office has not responded.

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