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Georgia House Speaker David Ralston dies at 68

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Less than two weeks after announcing his resignation due to health issues, Georgia House Speaker David Ralston passed away on Wednesday at the age of 68, according to his spokesperson Kaleb McMichen.

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In a statement, McMichen only mentioned that Ralston had passed away following "an extended illness." During his 13 years in charge of the 180-member House, the Blue Ridge Republican rose to become the second-most powerful figure in the Georgia state government.

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The longest-serving member of the House and close friend of Ralston, Democrat Calvin Smyre of Columbus, declared that "a great pine tree has fallen in the Georgia House of Representatives."

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Governor Brian Kemp, a Republican, mandated that flags be flown at half-staff until Ralston is buried and that his body will rest at the Georgia Capitol.

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Kemp stated in a statement, "Our state lost one of its true giants."

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Ralston, a lawyer from the mountains of north Georgia, had expressed hope to stay in the House even after resigning as speaker after 13 years.

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Sheree, his wife, and their two grown children are Ralston's only survivors. Funeral plans will be revealed later.

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Because of their close relationship, Ralston would give Democrats a respectful hearing and occasionally grant some of their legislative requests.

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