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Most county voters preferred apathy over Gingrich

Posted: March 11, 2012 - 12:00am

Of the 18,091 Columbia County residents who took the trouble to perform their civic duty by going to the polls on Super Tuesday, 79 of them cast their valuable vote for a candidate who had quit the presidential race.

While I suppose those 79 votes could be an endorsement of “none of the above,” or an endorsement of a candidate the voters wished had stayed in the race, each vote was still wasted.

It’s interesting to note that of those votes, Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann tied with 30 each. Jon Huntsman received 19 votes.

And even though all three withdrew from the race, they still outpolled Buddy Roemer (13 votes) and Gary Johnson (five votes), both of whom are actual, qualified candidates.

In fact, those two got even fewer votes than the 19 people who, for whatever reason, cast a blank ballot. That must sting.

Georgia voters overall did the same thing. Bachmann, Perry and Huntsman each pulled 0.2 percent of the vote; Johnson and Roemer each got 0.1 percent.

I don’t think they’re gonna make it.

As for the 17,178 Columbia County voters whose votes actually counted (not including the 834 symbolic votes for Barack Obama, whom we could safely assume would win the unopposed re-nomination), 7,065 preferred Newt Gingrich; 4,727 voted for Mitt Romney; 4,285 voted for Rick Santorum; and 1,020 like Ron Paul.

Another way of looking at it is that Romney got 27 percent, while more-conservative voters split between Santorum and native son Gingrich with a total of 67 percent. Columbia County has never been very friendly to moderates.

In case you didn’t notice, despite the fact that the Republican presidential primary was the only contested item on Columbia County’s ballot, the 24.31 percent turnout not only exceeded the 15 percent that Elections Director Deborah Marshall had predicted, but it beat the just more than 21 percent turnout in Richmond County.

When you consider Augusta’s ballot also included binding referendums on the school sales tax and Sunday package alcohol sales, that’s even more remarkable. Of course, the fact that 56,314 registered Columbia County voters blew off the chance to vote is pretty sad.

Redemption should come on July 31 for the General Primary. Not only will there be multiple contested races on the ballot, but Columbia County will have three binding questions:

• The Sunday package alcohol sales referendum;

• the statewide, regional transportation sales tax; and,

• the referendum on term limits for county commissioners.

I’m predicting pass, fail, pass for those three.

Incidentally, state Rep. Ben Harbin says Gov. Nathan Deal last week signed into law the new county commission and school board districts for Columbia County.

There’s no telling how long we’ll have to wait for our federal overlords in the U.S. Justice Department to give their imperious approval, but it should be in plenty of time for the July vote.

(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. Email barry.paschal@newstimes online.com, or call 706-863-6165, extension 106. Follow at twitter.com/

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Comments (13)


Who Cares What Harbin Says?

I think we would have found out what Nathan Deal signed into law without the mention of Lightpole Harbin. Did you ask him how the dinners and drinks with THAT lobbyist are going, too?


Harbin Testified for Dean

Really, it's interesting that the CCNT would mention Harbin after he testified for Scott Dean, in addition to Harbin's other problems. Why take up for him? Is there a reason?

Dean is a child molestor that I would hope no one is taking up for. Is the CCNT taking up for child molestors and those who take up for them? Anyone who takes up for child molestors is not going to get my support. A child molestor should spend decades in prison.

Barry Paschal

Ben Harbin is an elected member of the legislature

Harbin also is chairman of the Columbia County delegation, and the most easily accessible of all members in the Columbia County delegation. I had sent him a note a couple of weeks ago to ask if he'd let me know when local redistricting had passed; he did, and I reported it. I'm not going to arbitrarily cease access to an elected official just to satisfy you.

Harbin testified as a character witness during the trial, when Dean was still innocent in the eyes of the law. Politically it was a tremendous risk, but it also was a courageous act on behalf of a friend. If you prefer fair-weather friends who cut and run when asked for help, fine - that's certainly your right.

In any event, your hatred for, and fixation with, Harbin is certainly clear. Feel free to campaign against him or even run against him, and vote against him when the time comes. But we aren't going to declare him persona non grata just to make you happy.


Dean Testimony Aside

Okay, let's forget Harbin taking up for Dean, a child molestor, in court. What about the DUI arrest? If he's not careful and keeps having drinks and dinner with the female lobbyist he's going to get arrested again. When was the last time the two of them went out? You gave Harbin a fluff mention is what you were doing. I used to battle you about Scott Dean the same way. "Rim shot" and all that.


What I Prefer

"Harbin testified as a character witness during the trial, when Dean was still innocent in the eyes of the law. Politically it was a tremendous risk, but it also was a courageous act on behalf of a friend. If you prefer fair-weather friends who cut and run when asked for help, fine - that's certainly your right."

Geez, Barry, I can see asking a friend to loan you 20 bucks to payday or something, but asking them to testify for you in court after you are arrested for child molestation? Fair weather friend???

You are right, it's certainly my right to tell a child molestor the best thing he can do is lie down on the tracks right before that big rumbling train comes through Evans. If I were a child molestor, I certainly wouldn't call anyone a fair weather friend for not testifying for me. I'd think better of them. Where do you get such a view?

Barry Paschal

And if you weren't?

If you weren't and were accused of it? How'd you like being abandoned by your friends then? I think Harbin was outrageously wrong, politically, to testify; but do you really want people in elected office who only do what is politically expedient?

So you don't like Harbin. Fine. You've made that clear. You certainly have that right. I'll be happy to chat when you have something original to talk about.


I Supported Harbin the Last Election, but...

Describing Harbin’s testifying for Dean as a courageous action is hardly accurate. Dean’s close friend and campaign manager, Mike Sleeper, someone Dean gave thousands of dollars to in campaign contributions, didn’t even take up for him in court. So it leads me to believe Harbin had other motives. A courageous man runs from a DUI? Harbin and courage are incongruent as a preacher in a strip club.

It's your right to continue to support Harbin for whatever your reason is and that's exactly what your name recognition, fluff mention does while only a few days ago slamming courageous folks on the internet speaking up against all kinds of malfeasance and wrongdoing. Just don't expect me to be silent.


Barry you said...

"If you weren't and were accused of it?"

Are you saying you believe Scott Dean is not guilty? Do you realize what he even admitted in court? A couple takes a teenage adopted girl to bed with them? DFACS, CCSO, the DA and the jury all came to the proper conclusion.

Barry Paschal

It's a hypothetical

I'm saying if YOU were accused and did not think you were guilty, would you want your friends to abandon YOU? It's a hypothetical. Nothing more.

And no one is "expecting you to be silent." It would just be nice if you had something new to say. Perhaps you'll get your chance when Ben Harbin writes a guest column for us, as I expect him to do soon, like the one Jesse Stone wrote recently with progress from the Legislature.


A Guest Column???

I should have known. I wonder if he will take questions? Boy, do I have a lot of questions for him.

Barry Paschal

Why wait?

I you have questions, ask him. The Legislature's Web site has all of his contact information. What's stopping you?



I only want to ask questions in public that will embarrass him. You didn't really think any different, did ya?

Barry Paschal


Nope, that's exactly what I expected, and suspected.