David Shafer

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David J. Shafer
48th District of the Georgia State Senate
Assumed office
February 12, 2002–
Personal details
Born (1965-04-29) April 29, 1965 (age 49)
Dunwoody, Georgia, USA
Nationality American
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Lee Shafer
Occupation Businessman
Committees Administrative Affairs
Banking and Financial Institutions
Religion Presbyterian
Website Shafer for Lieutenant Governor

David J. Shafer (born April 29, 1965) is an American politician currently serving as the 68th President Pro Tempore of the Georgia State Senate. He represents Senate District 48, a suburban district located north of Atlanta and including portions of Fulton County and Gwinnett County. Shafer is a Republican.[1]

Shafer filed paperwork with the Georgia State Ethics Commission in late 2008 to raise funds for a 2010 bid for Lieutenant Governor, but suspended his campaign shortly thereafter and instead sought re-election to the State Senate.

Early life and education[edit]

Shafer was raised in Dunwoody, a suburb of Atlanta in DeKalb County. He was educated in DeKalb County Public Schools and graduated from the University of Georgia with a degree in political science. He was a student leader, serving as president of the Interfraternity Council, the Phi Kappa Psi Fraternity and the Order of Omega honor society. He was a member of Order of the Greek Horsemen and Gridiron Secret Society. His senior year, Shafer served as an academic intern in the Washington, D.C. office of United States Senator Sam Nunn. During his internship, Shafer roomed with future country music performer and dance hall proprietor Wild Bill Gentry, also a Nunn intern.

Early political career[edit]

Shafer served as executive director of the Georgia Republican Party in the early 1990s. He resigned to manage the 1994 gubernatorial campaign of Republican businessman Guy Millner, who narrowly lost the general election to Governor Zell Miller.[2] Shafer ran for Secretary of State himself in 1996, winning a hotly contested Republican primary in the race to succeed Max Cleland but losing the general election to Democrat Lewis Massey, who had been appointed to succeed Cleland by Miller.[3] Shafer ran for State Chairman of the Georgia Republican Party in 2001, placing second in a three way race ultimately won by Christian conservative activist Ralph Reed.[4]

Legislative service[edit]


Shafer was first elected to the State Senate in a nonpartisan special election on February 12, 2002,[5] defeating three other candidates in a race to succeed Senator Billy Ray, who had resigned from the Senate to accept a judicial appointment to the Superior Court. Shafer caucused with the Republican Party. Shafer was re-elected in the 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010 and 2012 general elections as a Republican.

Legislative Ratings[edit]

One of the state organizers of the Republican Liberty Caucus, Shafer is popularly associated with the libertarian wing of the Republican Party. He describes himself, however, as a "fiscal and social conservative." He receives generally high marks from traditional conservative and libertarian organizations. In his 2012 re-election campaign, Shafer received A+ ratings from Americans for Prosperity, American Conservative Union, Georgia Family Council's Center for an Educated Georgia and National Rifle Association. He received an A rating from Georgia Chamber of Commerce. Shafer was also recognized for "environmental leadership" by Georgia Conservation Voters, a "moderate" coalition of environmental organizations.

Leadership Positions[edit]

Shafer was unanimously elected to serve as the 68th President Pro Tempore of the Georgia State Senate on January 14, 2013. As such, he is the highest-ranking member of the Senate and next-in-line for Lieutenant Governor.

In his campaign for President Pro Tem, Shafer won the backing of the Senate Republican Caucus at its biennial organizational meeting held at Little Ocmulgee State Park on November 15, 2012. His nominating speech before the full Senate was given by Senate Republican Leader Ronnie Chance. In a show of unity, Senate Democratic Leader Steve Henson seconded the nomination.

Shafer's election was widely seen as an end to two years of infighting between Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle and a faction of the Senate Republican Caucus led by the outgoing Senate President Pro Tem Tommie Williams and Senate Republican Caucus Chairman Bill Cowsert. Williams did not seek re-election, backing Cowsert who was defeated within the Senate Republican Caucus by a reported vote of 25 to 11.

At the time of his nomination as President Pro Tempore, Shafer was Vice Chairman of the Senate Republican Caucus. He served as chairman of the Senate Science and Technology Committee from 2003 to 2006 and as chairman of the Senate Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee from 2006 until his election as President Pro Tem. He also served as an administration floor leader for Governor Sonny Perdue from 2003 to 2004.

As President Pro Tem, Shafer serves as Chairman of the Senate Administrative Affairs Committee and as a member of the Senate Committee on Assignments and the General Assembly's Legislative Services Committee. His other current committee assignments include: Senate Insurance and Labor Committee, Senate Finance Committee, Senate Rules Committee, Senate Health and Human Services Committee and Senate Reapportionment and Redistricting Committee.

Shafer was an early supporter of Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle and played a prominent role in his 2006 campaign. He served on Cagle's kitchen cabinet as an appointed member of the Senate Committee on Assignments. In 2011, when the Senate adopted new Senate Rules transferring the power of the Lieutenant Governor to the Senate Committee on Assignments, Shafer remained a member of the Committee by virtue of being Vice Chairman of the Senate Republican Caucus. Shafer was the only elected leader of the Caucus who continued to communicate with Cagle in his reduced state, setting the stage for him to reunify the Caucus and end the infighting two years later.

Legislative record[edit]

Best known as an advocate for reforming the state's budget procedures, Shafer has introduced legislation mandating zero-based budgeting, requiring budgetary surpluses to be returned to the taxpayers and requiring periodic sunset review of certain state agencies. Shafer served as floor leader to Governor Sonny Perdue but voted against Perdue's proposed 2003 tax increase.

Shafer's has compiled a pro-business voting record. He was recognized as Legislator of the Year by the Georgia Chamber of Commerce in 2010 for his 99% pro-business voting record. He is also a recipient of the Guardian of Free Enterprise Award from the National Federation of Independent Business. Shafer has sponsored several major telecommunications bills, encouraging competition and protecting customer privacy. He authored legislation in 2007, dubbed the "Corporate Good Samaritan Act," which limits the liability of corporations who provide voluntary, uncompensated assistance during times of declared disaster.[6] He introduced legislation in 2009 requiring periodic review of all state licensing boards to determine whether or not they are still needed.

Shafer is also known for his advocacy of "nondestructive stem cell research" involving stem cells derived from sources other than the human embryo. In 2006, he authored legislation creating the Georgia Newborn Umbilical Cord Blood Bank, which passed in 2007 as the "Saving the Cure Act." Shafer was recognized for his work in this area by Georgia Right to Life, which gave him its Pro-Life Hero Award.

He sponsored a resolution that passed in 2007 apologizing for Georgia's eugenics laws and blaming them on Social Darwinism. In 2008, he denounced atrocities in the Darfur region of Sudan as genocide and introduced legislation preventing Georgia pension funds from investing in companies that sell weapons to the Sudanese government. In 2009, he introduced and won passage of a resolution expressing support for the State of Israel in defense against terror attacks from the Gaza Strip.

Shafer drew national attention in 2008 with a resolution asserting that Georgia's northern border was erroneously surveyed in 1818 and authorizing litigation to recover the disputed area. Shafer's resolution would give Georgia access and riparian rights to the Tennessee River.

Shafer is a supporter of the Fair Tax. In 2009, he introduced a resolution urging the United States Congress to adopt the Fair Tax, calling for repeal of Sixteenth Amendment and expressing the will of the Georgia General Assembly to abolish the state income tax and replace it with a Fair Tax.

In 2010, Shafer saw passage of his zero-based budgeting bill as well as legislation to reform transportation spending, subject state agencies to sunset review and expand Second Amendment rights.

In 2012, he authored a second zero based budgeting bill that was signed into law by Governor Nathan Deal.

The Shafer Amendments[edit]

Shafer authored two controversial amendments significantly limiting taxation powers of local government in Fulton County. In 2005, Shafer attached an amendment to the charter of the City of Sandy Springs which prevented the Mayor and Council from increasing city property taxes above the existing millage rate without a referendum. Similar amendments were subsequently incorporated in the charters of the City of Milton and City of Johns Creek. More controversially, Shafer sponsored a legislative amendment prohibiting counties from collecting taxes in one area of a special services taxing district and spending those taxes in a noncontiguous area. The amendment affected only Fulton County. Senator Vincent Fort denounced the Shafer Amendment as "apartheid," saying it prevented Fulton County from taxing wealthy, predominately white homeowners in North Fulton and spending those taxes providing services to poorer areas of South Fulton. Shafer agreed that the amendment had that effect, saying that each area should pay for its own services, but called the reference to apartheid "erroneous and insulting." Fulton County unsuccessfully sued to overturn the Shafer Amendment, losing in front of both a Fulton Superior Court judge and the Georgia Supreme Court.

Budgetary disagreements with the Perdue Administration[edit]

Shafer supported Sonny Perdue for Governor, endorsing him, contributing to his campaigns and making speeches on his behalf. He also served briefly as one of Perdue's floor leaders in the Senate. However, the two disagreed on budgetary issues. Shafer opposed Perdue's 2003 package of proposed excise and property tax increases, voting against even a scaled back version that only raised tobacco taxes. He also opposed Perdue's 2010 proposed tax on hospital bills, insisting that it be coupled with reductions in income and insurance premium taxes. Also, Shafer introduced zero-based budgeting legislation over Perdue's objections. When Shafer won passage of zero based budgeting in 2010 with Senate Bill 1, Perdue vetoed it. Shafer successfully moved to override Perdue's veto during the 2011 legislative session.

Campaign for Lieutenant Governor[edit]

In late 2008, Shafer filed paperwork with the Georgia State Ethics Commission authorizing formation of a campaign committee to run for Lieutenant Governor. In early 2009, Shafer announced endorsements from a majority of the Republican members of the Georgia General Assembly and decisively defeated Senator Eric Johnson, who had also announced as a candidate for Lieutenant Governor, in straw polls held at county Republican conventions.

On April 15, 2009, after Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle announced that a debilitating spinal disease was forcing him to withdraw from the race for Governor and instead seek re-election as Lieutenant Governor, Shafer released a statement wishing Cagle well and suspending his own campaign in order to "reevaluate political options." Shafer defeated Cagle and Johnson in a straw poll held at the Seventh Congressional District Republican Convention on April 18, 2009[7] and at the State Convention of the Georgia Association of College Republicans held the same day. Shortly thereafter, Shafer announced that he was permanently ending his campaign, subject to Cagle's full medical recovery, and that he would instead seek re-election to the State Senate. He was re-elected in 2010 at the same time that Cagle won re-election as Lieutenant Governor.


Shafer is married and lives in Duluth, Georgia[8] with his family. He serves on the board of directors of the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce and is a former trustee of the Gwinnett County Library System. He is a Presbyterian[1] and a Rotarian.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Georgia State Senate, "Senator David Shafer" 2008.
  2. ^ Georgia Republican Party, "THE GEORGIA REPUBLICAN PARTY 1856 – 2006: 150 years to Victory" 2005.
  3. ^ Georgia State Senate, "David J. Shafer of Duluth (R-48 ) Biography Information" March 5, 2002.
  4. ^ New York Times, "Ralph Reed Wins Election To Lead Georgia Republicans" May 6, 2001.
  5. ^ Gwinnett Forum, "Senator Shafer to chair wide-ranging regulating committee" June 16, 2006.
  6. ^ Georgia Chamber of Commerce, "GAC Judiciary Committee" March 31, 2008.
  7. ^ Gwinnett Daily Post, "Polls look good to Shafer" April 23, 2009.
  8. ^ AJC Political Insider, "Like your drivers ed teacher said: The right-of-way often belongs to he who takes it" June 4, 2008.
  9. ^ Senator David Shafer, "Recommended Links".

External links[edit]