Finding himself in the unfamiliar position of fighting for his political career, Charles Walker Sr. is spending huge amounts of his million-dollar war chest on direct mail pieces accusing his opponent, Randy Hall, of directing business to Columbia County.
It is a classic, desperate case of Us vs. Them. And I suppose I should be flattered; two of Walkers mailers quote from my column of Aug. 28, in which I noted that Hall had sent a fund-raising letter to Columbia County residents asking them to send money to his campaign and influence their Augusta friends to vote for him.
Walkers campaign is using my column, and Halls letter, to claim that Hall left Richmond County behind for the riches of Columbia County, promising policies favorable to businesses in their area and helping businesses and residents in Columbia County.
Walker crafted this distortion from Halls letter, which simply asks for financial help from Augustas neighbors and promises to serve the interests of the entire community.
Walker also doesnt mention in his mailer that he has long been trying to get his hands on Columbia Countys money and assert his control over our government - and we ought to be mad as hell about it.
Look again at the episode with Walkers fellow Democratic Augusta senator, Don Cheeks. In a two-step process, Walker gerrymandered the independent Cheeks into a vulnerable district during reapportionment, while inserting Cheeks new district into Columbia County via one precinct.
Then, Walker found a black female candidate to run against Cheeks. She could have won, too, by beating Cheeks in the Democratic primary. The ploy failed when Walkers candidate was disqualified.
If Walker had succeeded, he would have gained significant control over Columbia County, to our detriment. Heres why: Any lawmaker who has even a sliver of a county in his district serves on that countys legislative delegation. Instead of Don Cheeks serving on the Senate side of the Columbia County delegation with Republican Joey Brush, Walkers puppet Monique Cheeks (no relation to Don) would hold the post.
Because Monique Cheeks is a Democrat, and Democrats are in the majority, all tie votes on the delegation would go in the Democrats favor. Thus, Walkers puppet would have had veto power over all Columbia County legislation!
Worse, Columbia County would have been unable to get a thin dime in state funding without genuflection at the Walker altar - including generous donations to Walkers perpetual campaign.
Repeated ethics complaints have shown a clear path of money flowing to Walkers campaign funds and then to his personal benefit. Instead of openly asking like-minded Columbia County neighbors to support him, as Hall does, Walker would have forced us to fund his megalomania.
Hall has gotten substantial support from Columbia County citizens who believe in his personal ethics and high standards. Thats a big change from Walkers ring-kissing support, which comes with coercion and strings attached.
Heres the real kicker: Walkers mailer admits Richmond Countys tax base is eroding, our property values are declining and our schools need help.
Say, isnt Walker supposed to be one of Georgias most powerful politicians? Hasnt he been taking credit for creating jobs and improving Augusta? If its as bad as he says it is, what has Walker really done for Augusta?
The answer? Nothing - unless he was doing it for himself, and Augusta just got lucky enough to catch the crumbs that fell off the table.
I sure hope Randy Hall is elected - and we can proud Columbia County helped.
(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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