The party at Be Our Guest, Lee Anderson’s election night headquarters, never really had an opportunity to get started. As results started to roll in, it became evident that although he carried his home turf Columbia County, neighboring Richmond County proved to be a significant issue. One, in the end, he just could not overcome.
“The power of the incumbency is overwhelming,” said Wright McLeod, one of Anderson’s three opponents in the July. “It appears the Democrats got out the vote, had a very successful ground game. And the killer, of course, is Richmond County.”
Georgia State Senator Bill Jackson watched the results roll in from a quiet seat away from the turmoil of the main ballroom. He said that while Anderson failed to win the election, he felt the people of District 12 and, more specifically, Columbia County, were the evening’s true losers.
“It means we’ll have one less representative in the Congress,” he said. “It also means Columbia County is losing that representation. We’re losing someone with that connection to the people here.”
As the evening progressed, the crowd began to thin, driven out by the late hour and increasingly discouraging numbers. In the end, the faithful few that remained huddled around computers and televisions, discussing the hard numbers and the far-fetched scenarios that might make for an election night miracle. Cautiously optimistic conversation continued until Anderson took to the podium with his wife Donna by his side.
“The people have spoken,” he said during his concession. “And it looks like it isn’t going to happen tonight. I’d like to thank all of you. We’re here not as politicians, but as servants and that’s what we plan to continue to do.”
Afterward, Anderson said that his only regret was that he hadn’t taken the time to meet more of the people he had wanted to represent. He said the business of politics precluded him from spending as much time as he should have talking to the constituents of District 12.
““That’s the only thing I would have done differently,” he said. “I would have gotten out and seen more people. Grassroots, that’s what I am. I wish I had been able to spend more time doing that and less time on the phone raising money. People need to see the person, not a television ad.”