As expected, Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue has now named an Augusta attorney as a panelist on the states judicial nominating commission.
And its probably not a coincidence that James Purcell is a member of the same law firm as state Rep. Barry Fleming.
A lot of people were surprised when the judicial nominating commission left Flemings name off the list of five finalists for the judgeship vacated in June by Lyn Allgood. One of those finalists, Mike Annis, has since assumed that judicial post.
Fleming expressed frustration at the turn of events, feeling like he had been led by the governor himself to apply for the judgeship and believing he had a good chance of getting it. Not even making it into the finals - even though two Democrats did - was a hard shot for the Republican lawmaker.
Before now, no local resident sat on the state board. Purcells appointment certainly puts Augusta in a better position for input on the judiciary. Its still an open question of whether it likewise improves Flemings position for a future post.
Press 1 for conflict
Local Republicans are happy about Purcells ap-pointment, but theyre miffed over another local attorneys challenge to one of the areas newest Republican lawmakers.
Veteran state Sen. Don Cheeks, a former Democrat, has had crosshairs on his back since switching to the Republican Party last year. Democrats have loudly searched for a candidate to take on Cheeks.
Theyve found Ed Tarver, an Augusta attorney, former Metro Augusta Chamber of Commerce board chairman and most recently co-chairman of the panel reviewing Augustas sales-tax projects.
Tarver will be tough: hes well-known, will bring in lots of money from the legal community, and as an African-American will pull in a healthy chunk of votes from the black community.
In the 2002 election, then-state Sen. Charles Walker recruited a black woman to run against Cheeks while he was still a Democrat; it turned out she wasnt qualified to run. Cheeks got revenge when he was re-elected without opposition and then switched parties after Walkers own defeat.
The political players know all that stuff. What has them stirred up now is that Tarver is holding a fund-raiser, and the phone number for invitees to respond is at the same law firm as Columbia County attorney Doug Batchelor. (Batchelor and Tarver are with Hull, Towill, Norman and Barrett, the same company this newspaper uses for legal services.)
Its a pretty weak complaint. Still, it gives local Republicans a beef with Batchelors Columbia County employers - and all of them are Republicans, too.
Say it aint so, Bubba
No matter who is elected next year, so-called flaggers will work to be perceived as a factor. They claim credit for Perdues election, and likewise promise to defeat him and any other politicians who voted for the state flag referendum next March.
Flaggers - frustrated that the Confederate battle emblem isnt on that referendum - have worked hard to dispel derogatory stereotypes of their ranks as buck-toothed rednecks with indecipherable drawls. Theyve urged troublemakers to stay away from protests, dressed neatly at public events, and chosen articulate spokesmen.
They probably werent too thrilled, then, with the stereotype-feeding comments of one of their own as he tried to explain the flaggers absence last week from Perdues racial reconciliation forum in Atlanta.
When asked why Confed-erate flag supporters skipped the limited-seating event, Heritage Preservation Asso-ciation President Charles Lunsford said, With 200 seats and a lottery draw, what are the odds someone on our side could get in - and speak English correctly? What are the chances of that?
Open mouth and insert foot, yall.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to bpaschal at newstimesonline.com.)
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