Now that Tuesday’s elections are settled, Republicans can unify around their congressional candidate by sending him all their money.
Whether it’s Rick Allen or Lee Anderson left standing, he’ll have a lot less money and a lot more bruises after this nasty party scrimmage. John Barrow, meanwhile, will be fresh as a daisy and sitting on top of a pile of cash, ready to fight every step to November.
I’m writing before the votes are counted, and I expect that surviving candidate to be the always-misunderestimated Lee Anderson. Today’s results show if I called it right or not.
As the election season goes forward, Barrow will be the unifier for previously divided Republicans, each of whom supported a candidate who repeated the mantra that Barrow was the main target – even as some of them did their best to shoot holes in the other Republicans.
Still, the case against Barrow is pretty simple for any Republican to make. Voters will be electing a member of a team. Each voter will have to answer the question: Whose team are you supporting, the Democrats’ team, or the Republicans?
In Columbia County, that answer is the Republicans, typically with a 70 percent majority (as shown by the results of McCain-Obama in 2008 and Deal-Barnes in 2010, among others).
That’s good for Republican candidates, but in the long run it could be bad for the Republican Party if they continue to take that support for granted. It should not be forgotten that Democrats once took voter support in Columbia County for granted, too; every elected official in the county until 1984 was a declared member of the Democratic Party.
But recent posts on Facebook regarding our area’s political history from Lillian Smith, one of those early Republicans, is a reminder that single-party rule in Columbia County began to fade when Ronald Reagan’s re-election coattails helped bring Republicans Sheriff Otis Hensley and school trustee Suzanne Scott to office.
(School board elections in Columbia County once were partisan; lawmakers switched them to non-partisan races when Republicans started winning.)
The dominoes ending single-party rule began falling in 1984, and within a few years the last elected Democrats in Columbia County, including Anderson, switched parties and joined the Republican team.
Now, in addition to Anderson, who is still a state lawmaker until the end of the year, former Democrats currently holding Columbia County office as Republicans include Commissioner Charles Allen and his wife, Tax Commissioner Kay Allen, and state Sen. Bill Jackson.
It probably was once unthinkable that any of them would switch uniforms and join the other team, yet here we are. That should serve as a cautionary tale: Anyone who takes Columbia County’s single-party status for granted has either no knowledge of history, or a gift for wishful thinking.
(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/