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Columbia County influence gains with Richmond County choice

Posted: July 7, 2012 - 11:11pm

As advance voting in the July 31 primary begins Monday, candidates undoubtedly will start ramping up their efforts to persuade voters to pick them out of the crowd.

But who wins and who loses, in some cases, will be determined by factors that have nothing to do with the candidate.

For example, the two races we’re hearing most about are the sheriff’s race in Richmond County, and the Republican primary for the 12th District U.S. congressional seat. Political wonks know how those races are linked, but I’d bet casual voters don’t have a clue.

If you’re one of the latter, here’s how these two play together.

The early action in the sheriff’s race is in the Democratic primary. The 12th District race begins with the Republican primary. Voters have to choose one ballot, not both.

That means when Richmond County voters choose a Democratic ballot so they’ll have a say in the sheriff’s race, they won’t be able to vote in the 12th District congressional race. And vice-versa.

You could put this information on billboards all over town, but I could almost guarantee that there will be voters showing up at the election and complaining when they aren’t allowed to vote in both races.

Because the sheriff’s race is so important, that’s going to pull a tremendous number of voters away from the 12th District race.

Suddenly the block of Republican voters in Columbia County gets far more weight in that race.

Let’s face it: There is zero reason to choose a Democratic primary ballot in Columbia County. Those who do so will be able to vote in a school board race (if they live in one of the two districts) and for superior court judge, along with the two binding referendums.

But all of the contested elections, including the non-partisan races, are on the Republican ballot, as are the referendums. Voters who choose a Democratic ballot won’t see county commission races, or the state legislative race, or the 12th District race.

Most Columbia County voters, then, will choose a Republican ballot. Because so many Richmond County voters will pick a Democratic ballot, Columbia County’s Republican voters will have far more impact in deciding the 12th District primary.

That probably helps Columbia County resident and native son Lee Anderson most. It could help Rick Allen some, too, since he was born here, but losing a chunk of his base in Richmond County, where he now lives, probably will offset that.

Meanwhile, for voters who choose the Republican ballot, the state party has five straw-poll questions:

1. Should Georgia have casino gambling with funds going to education?

2. Do you support ending the current practice of unlimited gifts from lobbyists to state legislators by imposing a $100 cap on such gifts?

3. Should active duty military personnel who are under the age of 21 be allowed to obtain a Georgia weapons license?

4. Should citizens who wish to vote in a primary election be required to register by their political party affiliation at least thirty (30) days prior to such primary election?

5. Should the Constitution of Georgia be amended so as to provide that the paramount right to life is vested in each innocent human being from his or her earliest biological beginning without regard to age, race, sex, health, function, or condition of dependency?

My votes? No, yes, yes, no, no.

(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 (15)


party ballots

We wish we could remember when all of this started. We know there was a sinister motivation in having people publicly announce who they are voting for in an election. Rigged elections. Stacking the deck, as we have in 2012. Was it the career politicians with lifetime aspirations? Was it racial? To say it would allow citizens to "vote against" someone is again removing their right to vote as they choose. And we are to trust these "public servants" who thwart the will of the people at every opportunity. Demanding a declaration of party affiliation is paramount to "no secret ballot".


About Number 2

"Do you support ending the current practice of unlimited gifts from lobbyists to state legislators by imposing a $100 cap on such gifts?"

How are you going to stop late night drinks and dinners with pretty lobbyists?


Congressional v. Sheriff's Race

Wright McLeod also has plenty of Columbia County voters. One of his offices is in the county, but I agree Lee Anderson will benefit most. But it could be the Congressional race is heating up so much in Richmond County that it won't affect the Sheriff's race that much. Plus, they have a Republican race with Sanders and Godowns.


Why just Wright McLeod and Lee Anderson?

RW Allen seems to have the business sense required to make be successful in Washington? No offense to Mr. McLeod; however, what we do not need another attorney representing my interests. Mr.Anderson has a good reputation as being a "nice guy" and a local icon of sorts; but not the business background and is somewhat a "good ole boy." Honestly, John Barrow hasn't done a bad job either. Tough decisions this election year for local politics.


Spelunkerman, Good Points, But...

I don't look at McLeod as the usual lawyer type politician. He is a Naval Academy grad and spent 20 years as a naval aviator. He served in the Gulf War and so on. THEN he went to law school and became very successful. Amazing story actually.

Little Lamb


Somehow, I don't see how being a navigator for 20 years makes one qualified to be U.S. Representative.

Little Lamb

Straw Poll

My votes on the straw poll: no, no, yes, no, no

We need to stop fretting over how much people contribute to campaigns or to politicians in office (lobbying). Money is speech. It should be protected.

Barry Paschal

Good point, Little Lamb

And remember: If two people agree on everything, one of them is uneccessary!


yes, yes it does

Lamb, the answer to your comment is yes, 20 years as a Naval Aviator does qualify you for that position. Some of our greatest representatives were military leaders long before entering politics. JFK is the first who comes to mind.

Little Lamb


I have heard that his qualification in the navy was navigator. I would agree that if a person stays in the military for 20 years and rises in the ranks to a command position of, say, full colonel, then he might be Congressional material. But if he remains in a specialty (as airplane navigator) then that does not show the drive and initiative to be a congressman. Of course, it's all supposition and opinion on my part. I do not know Mr. McLeod.

Former Resident

Lamb: I would agree with your

Lamb: I would agree with your statement that it is all supposition and opinion on your part.

As a former Naval Officer and Naval Academy grad myself (and former Columbia County resident), let me put a few facts on record:
- It does not matter whether Mr. McLeod was a Naval Flight Officer (what you call Navigator) or a Naval Aviator (you would call a pilot). They are both considered equal in the F-14 community and both have equal opportunities to command squadrons and carrier air wings. "Airplane navigator" is only a specialty if you consider "airplane pilot" or "ship driver", "Navy SEAL" or "Army Infantry Officer" to be a specialty. They are all line officers with command responsibilities.
- It is almost impossible for a "line officer" to reach the rank of full colonel in 20 years (average is about 22 years). Most officers start having significant command positions as Commanders/ Lieutenant Colonels (about 16 years), but have important leadership positions even prior to that time.

I have no dog in this fight, but I don't like to see someone disparaged because of uninformed opinion about their career path.


Well stated Former

Now, to Middletons Tavern for an Aviator Beer....or would that be Navigator Ale?


Former Resident, Thanks for Clearing That Up

I, as a former ground guy in the Army, was going to formulate a reply to LL trying to explain how rank and responsibility in the military work. If Flight Officers stay in past 20 they can end up in all kinds of command positions the same as the pilots. I'm sure McLeod had supervisory experience commensurate with his rank when he was in.

It really is a unique story that he spent 20 years in after the Naval Academy and then went to law school and became a successful lawyer so quickly.

Little Lamb


Thanks for the clarifications, Former Resident and Riverman. It is interesting how you say a 20-year navigator or pilot would have opportunities for supervision and management, but no one to date has published the actual accomplishments McLeod had in that arena. Now that the courts have ruled the Stolen Valor Act unconstitutional, everyone can breathe easier.


LL, the Flight Officer is

LL, the Flight Officer is responsible for all types of systems on the aircraft. He is not just a navigator, he manages the weapons systems. On an aircraft carrier where the commander is an 0-6, Captain, the aviators are usually lower ranking. However, McLeod would definitely would have time as the officer-in-charge of the flight section.