ATLANTA – The longest serving member of the General Assembly apparently is about to leave the legislature for a post in the Biden administration.
President Joe Biden is planning to nominate Georgia Rep. Calvin Smyre, D-Columbus, as U.S. ambassador to the Dominican Republic, the White House confirmed Wednesday.
Smyre, elected to the House in 1974 at the age of 26, has held a number of leadership positions over the years. He is currently chairman of the House Democratic Caucus and served as the first Black chairman of the Georgia Democratic Party.
Smyre chaired the powerful House Rules Committee before Republicans took control of the chamber in 2004. He remains a member of that committee as well as the House Appropriations Committee, which is responsible for producing state budgets every year.
His legislative record is highlighted by the critical role he played in replacing Georgia’s segregation-era state flag featuring the Confederate battle standard and by his sponsorship of legislation making Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday a state holiday.
Smyre also has been active in national Democratic politics, co-chairing Bill Clinton’s Georgia presidential campaigns in 1992 and 1996. He also served the 2000 Al Gore campaign as a deputy.
A banker by profession, Smyre rose through the ranks at Columbus-based Synovus to his current role as executive vice president of corporate external affairs. He also serves as president of the nonprofit Synovus Foundation.
If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Smyre would become the second Georgia legislator in recent years to serve as a U.S. ambassador. Former Democratic state Sen. David Adelman was U.S. ambassador to Singapore from 2010 until 2013.
On the Republican side, Atlanta lawyer and longtime Georgia GOP insider Randy Evans served as ambassador to Luxembourg from 2018 until early this year.
This story is available through a news partnership with Capitol Beat News Service, a project of the Georgia Press Educational Foundation.