We aint one-at-a-timin it here! Were mass communicatin!
- Gov. Pappy ODaniel
Where Art Thou?
After getting the question over and over, it seems like time to address it in once.
The question is always the same: Whats gonna happen in this mayors race?
The inquisitors arent talking about the race between Harlem Mayor John Bentley and former City Councilman Scott Dean, either, though that race certainly carries plenty of intrigue of its own.
No, these questioners want to know about the Augusta mayoral race. The easy answer is that there is no crystal ball big enough to hold all the possibilities. But since I dunno is never good enough, here are my prognostications.
Bear in mind: When Nov. 6 comes, if the predictions are totally wrong Ill pretend to ignore them. If theyre right, Ill brag like Austin Rhodes winning Augusta Magazines Best Radio Personality award.
OK, I wont brag that much. (Congratulations to Austin, by the way. WGAC is my favorite station; its the only one left in Augusta that doesnt play rap.)
What will happen in the mayors race: Ed McIntyre will get the most votes on Nov. 5, but will be just short of the 45 percent he needs to win outright. Bob Young will come in second and win the runoff.
Thats similar to 1998. The biggest difference this time around is the makeup of all the candidates. When Larry Sconyers was the incumbent, Young was one of three white candidates, and McIntyre was one of three black candidates. In 2002, Young is one of four white hopefuls; McIntyre is the sole black candidate.
Racial politics in Augusta being what they are, McIntyre will get close to 90 percent of the black vote, and the four white candidates - Young, Robin Williams, Bonnie Ruben and Bobby Ross - will take 90 percent of the white vote.
The population is evenly split, so for McIntyre to get the most votes in the General Election hinges on turnout. In addition to McIntyre, Charles Walker Sr. is in the fight of his life against Randy Hall for the state Senate District 22 seat, and Charles Walker Jr. is facing a strong challenge in the 12th District congressional race from Max Burns.
These three black candidates each have their own incentive to get voters to the polls, so 2002 could yield the highest black voter turnout ever. The racial block will hurt white mayoral candidates - but not enough for McIntyre to win outright. And those voters arent likely to show up for the runoff, so the victory goes to whatever white guy comes in second.
Increased black turnout may boost Williams - but only enough to keep McIntyre from winning. That is almost poetic justice: Williams, banking on Walker Sr.s support and a unity theme, would be the favorite if McIntyre had not gotten into the race at all.
Williams also is getting bad press for his lobbying efforts, which is kind of funny. Williams was accused of lobbying lavishly as a legislator, and now that he is a private citizen lobbying legally, youd think the critics would lay off. The combination of McIntyres candidacy hurting Williams in the black community and the ethics questions dogging him in the white community will keep Williams in third place.
The final two candidates in the mix - Ruben and Ross - are far superior to Elmer Singley and Kenneth Win-ters, who cluttered up the 98 race. But they also have no chance of winning.
All these candidates debate Monday and Tuesday, at 5:30 p.m. each day on WRDW-TV 12, sponsored by The Augusta Chronicle. Like my predicitions, I hope those confrontations answer some questions, too.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to bpaschal@ newstimesonline.com, or call 863-6165, extension 106.)
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