In just a few weeks, Randy Hall will be searching for votes from every nook and cranny of Augustas 22nd District state Senate seat.
But for now, hes stalking dollars to make the run against state Sen. Majority Leader Charles Walker more viable - and Columbia County has become his hunting preserve.
Hall recently sent out a letter to Columbia County Republicans and business leaders, seeking money for his campaign to unseat the powerful Walker. Its an unusual overture: Why solicit money from citizens who have no vote?
Hall anticipates the question. It is natural for you to ask why I am writing to residents of Columbia County for help with this race, his letter opens. He then points out the vested interest citizens have in the outcome of the race if they own property, work or go to school, own or operate a business, or shop or play in Augusta.
Thats pretty broad. Just try to name somebody whom that description doesnt fit. And thats the idea: to drive home to Columbia County residents the importance of a race they cant vote in, but which can have enormous consequences for the community they share.
Besides, Halls letter adds: Senator Walker has amassed a great deal of power over the last few years and has shown a willingness to use that power in ways that have not been favorable to businesses and residents of Columbia County.
Thats an understatement. Walker is actively trying to get a tighter grip on economic development in Richmond County, which would come at the expense of Columbia County. And Walker tried to get a foothold in Columbia Countys legislative delegation by running a candidate against his toughest in-house rival, state Sen. Don Cheeks.
I believe in the old-fashioned notion that a public servant must serve the interests of the citizens and not his or her personal or family interests, Hall says.
Funny, the family interests line. That alone explains, political observers say, why Walker has spent so much money already on TV ads even before last weeks primary. Walker was trying to boost his sons chances in the Democratic primary for the 12th District congressional seat.
How? Well, look at it this way: Feel-good ads for Walker Sr. help boost local name recognition for Walker Jr. That frees up Walker Jr. to spend more of his money on advertising in Savan-nah and Athens, the other two cities in the far-flung district.
Pretty clever. And itll continue through the Sept. 10 runoff, when Ben Allen promises to be at least as tough an opponent to Walker Jr. as Hall wants to be to Walker Sr. An infusion of Columbia County money, to both of them, would certainly help.
Posted in every Columbia County precinct last week were signs warning Demo-cratic voters that Mac Barber had been disqualified in his race for the state Public Service Commission, and that any votes cast for him would be discarded.
Naturally, then, the 1,869 voters in Columbia County who picked up Democratic ballots knew to either skip that race, or vote for Lauren Bubba McDonald, right?
Wrong. Of the 1,587 Democrats who punched a number in that race, 799 voted for Barber - 11 votes more than McDonald!
Columbia County officials tallied those wasted votes, but Georgias Secre-tary of States office records only a 100 percent win for incumbent McDonald.
Barber, by the way, was disqualified because he didnt live in the right district. PSC members are elected statewide, but now must live in the district they hope to represent. Anna Hargis says among the reasons she is challenging state Sen. Joey Brush is that he voted for the bill switching the PSC to district votes - thus cutting her out of a possible rematch for the seat she sought in 1998.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to barrypaschal@ yahoo.com, or call 863-6165, extension 106.)
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