Maybe it’s too little, too late, but it was great news nonetheless when Chip Rogers resigned from the state Senate this past week. Good riddance.
The Cherokee County Republican was one of those behind the movement that ultimately succeeded in passing a constitutional amendment creating a state agency to approve charter schools. When it blows up in supporters’ faces in a few years – as similar measures have in other states, with scandals involving siphoning tax money into private pockets – we’ll have Rogers and like-minded politicians to thank.
The story goes that Rogers got involved in the push to create the duplicate, parallel state school agency largely because his own local school board refused to approve a charter school. But he’s also known as a foe of public education itself, even though it is a key requirement of government under Georgia’s state Constitution.
But get this: Rogers, who wants private entities to run public schools, is leaving the Senate for a political patronage job with Georgia Public Broadcasting. He’s going from Sen. Rogers to Mr. Rogers. There goes the neighborhood.
Meanwhile, a south Georgia Republican senator, John Bulloch, also resigned. He’s in a seat, says Atlanta pundit Jim Galloway, that could go to a Democrat in a special election.
Republicans have visions of a supermajority that would allow them to send to voters more of those deceptively worded constitutional amendments, like the one on charter schools, without any Democratic input. Any Democrat gains would keep that from happening.
Speaking of Democrats, here’s something that seems to have gotten lost in analysis of the recent District 12 congressional race.
It all started last year during reapportionment, when state Rep. Lee Anderson helped redraw the district to allow him to run for Congress without the messy prospect of facing an incumbent Republican. Running in the 10th District was out of the question; that would have forced him to face U.S. Rep. Paul Broun in a Republican primary, and he’d seen Broun twice before beat his Columbia County legislative colleagues Jim Whitehead and Barry Fleming.
Instead, Anderson helped shift Broun’s 10th District seat out of most of Columbia County, moving the bulk of the population to a redrawn 12th District that included Anderson’s Grovetown farm. Democrat John Barrow was the incumbent in the district, though Barrow and most Democrat voters were cut out of it.
If Anderson had succeeded, majority Republican Columbia County would have dominated the new district and would have been represented by its own resident for the first time since Charlie Norwood.
But the plan failed.Barrow, who twice before moved after being drawn out of his district by Republicans who couldn’t beat him at the polls, moved again. And beat the Republicans, again.
Now? Columbia County goes from being a major part of one district to being carved up between two congressmen with few reasons to give us much attention.
And Anderson follows the fate of his predecessors, leaving the Legislature by losing in a quest to move up to Congress.
(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 www.twitter.com/barrypaschal.)