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/