While it might be nice to pretend we don’t have to even think about elections until next year, the reality of our times is that we don’t have that luxury.
John Stone sure doesn’t. Starting this summer, he’ll have a full-time job: Running for Congress.
You might remember Stone. If you’re an old-timer, you’ll recall his voice from radio news in Augusta. More recently, he might be familiar from the 2008 congressional race that he lost to Democrat John Barrow.
In between, he was the right-hand man for Charlie Norwood, who served the 10th Congressional District as our congressman until he died in 2007.
Stone told me last week he’s preparing to run again against Barrow. He’ll have a couple of advantages he didn’t have last time.
First, the district’s boundaries are much different. In 2008, before redistricting, the 12th leaned Democrat. Lee Anderson drew the seat to give himself an edge, so now it tilts Republican. Anderson lost to Barrow, but Mitt Romney took the district with 57 percent.
Second, Stone says, he’s gathering a campaign team of people who have already done what he wants to do here: Beat an incumbent Democrat in a GOP-leaning congressional district.
He’ll have challenges, of course, not the least of which is the fact that Barrow has managed thus far to defeat every Republican who’s been thrown against him, and has survived repeated Republican efforts to redraw him out of the district.
Because Stone has been working so long in Washington, he’ll also need to reconnect with his roots.
“I still have my home there” in Forest Hills, Stone says. “I was born and raised there. I went to Hickman Park kindergarten, Richmond Academy, Langford Junior High and Augusta State, all on Walton Way. My family has been there since the Revolution.
“I’ve been up here,” he adds, “but I came up here to serve the district.”
Once the race starts, he knows he’ll have a fight on his hands – one that won’t get any easier if Barrow wins the redrawn seat again.
In last year’s election, he points out, “you had a bunch of Republicans who voted for Barrow. You pull that lever one time, it gets easier to pull it the next time. We can beat him substantially this time. If we don’t, we’ll be stuck with him.”
We’ll also be stuck with a vulnerable district.
“By God, we’ve got to have somebody championing our area. And we don’t,” Stone says.
That’s especially important to Fort Gordon, whose protection during the previous Base Closure and Realignment Commission process was a credit to Norwood’s hard work.
“We’ve got to have a member out there working like hell to get missions moved from elsewhere to Fort Gordon as part of the next BRAC,” Stone says. “Or else we’re going to see missions moved from Fort Gordon to someplace else.
“We’ve got to have somebody who can make that fight,” he said. “Barrow ain’t it.”
Stone plans to visit Evans on Saturday, March 23, for the Republican Party’s monthly breakfast at Fatz Cafe. Stop by and welcome him home before the non-stop campaigning starts.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. Email barry.paschal@newstimes online.com, or call 706-868-1222, ext. 106. Follow at www.twitter.com/