Those who plan to attend Thursday’s Columbia County Chamber of Commerce Post-Legislative Breakfast will be able to pick state Sen. Jesse Stone out of the crowd. If he’s heard the news, Stone will be the one with the wall-to-wall grin.
Word has it that a potentially strong challenger to Stone, Robert Buchwitz, apparently has decided not to run for the state Senate seat after all.
While Buckwitz had made no formal announcement, and thus had nothing to un-announce, it still was widely known that he intended to run against Stone as a Republican. There’s a lot of pent-up irritation toward Stone and other members of the Legislature because of the way Columbia County was carved up during reapportionment, and Buckwitz seemed poised to capitalize on it.
This means none of the incumbent members of the greatly expanded Columbia County Legislative Delegation currently have an announced opponent. Considering that qualifying for all these races is just more than three weeks away, that’s pretty significant.
Thus far, there is only one contested legislative election in Columbia County. Barry Fleming and Mike Popplewell plan to run for the redrawn state House seat held by state Rep. Lee Anderson, who is running for the District 12 congressional seat.
Locally, Republican Party Chairman Brian Slowinsky plans to run for the District 1 school board seat being vacated by Wayne Bridges, while Butch Holley plans to run against incumbent Charles Allen for the Columbia County Commission District 3 seat. District 2 Commis-sioner Trey Allen, whose seat also is up for re-election, no longer has an announced opponent since Martinez resident Damon Cline found out he doesn’t live in the district.
Cline, by the way, had been propelled to run because of the Magnolia Trace issue, but the mood around that controversial project has been undergoing a change lately. As time passes, the neighbors are getting less testy about it – becoming downright neighborly, even. It’s to the point that many of the calls I get are from people asking when, and how, to rent one of the new homes. (I have no idea.)
So, will redistricting, or housing, or any other local issue propel any candidates into, or out of, this year’s races? I suppose we’ll find out in three weeks.
(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/