For sale: One crystal ball, slightly defective.
With the exception of just about every candidate in the Columbia County Commission District 4 race, no one predicted Lee Anderson would win last week without a runoff.
The candidates themselves were the exceptions to that lack of prediction; part of running is exuding confidence in your chances.
Thus, Anderson - a fellow Appling and Harlem High boy whom Ive known all my life - cautiously but confidently predicted his landslide victory.
A couple of weeks before Tuesdays election, he laid out the calculations: Hed win the two Appling precincts that are new to the district, and poll well in Harlem and Grovetown. His closest competitor would be George James, who would split Grovetown with fellow resident Rosa Lee Owens.
He was exactly right. Anderson picked up 80 percent of the vote at the Kiokee Baptist precinct, and almost 70 percent of the Eubank Blanchard precinct.
In fact, Anderson won more than 50 percent of the vote in seven out of 10 precincts (including absentee votes as a precinct). James got more votes at Grovetown City Hall and Grovetown Methodist Church, and along with Sam Jones kept Anderson below 50 percent in the Greater Augusta Apostolic Church precinct.
Anderson, one of the candidates who drew criticism from local Democrats for declaring his Republican affiliation in the non-partisan race, easily captured the countys strongest Demo-cratic-leaning precinct: He won 57 percent of the vote at Harlem Baptist Church, the only Columbia County precinct where Al Gore got a majority in 2000.
But its another crowded election four years earlier - in the same district - that really merits comparison with Andersons victory. Back in 1996, Roxanne Whitaker faced three opponents for the Harlem-Grovetown seat on the Columbia County School Board. Just about everyone expected a runoff, but Whitaker took a stunning 63 percent of the vote.
That same year, by the way, Wayne Bridges and Lee Muns lost races for seats on the school board. The two ran again in 2000 and won. Whitaker ran for re-election that year, and easily beat Owens - who, of course, resurfaced this year in the District 4 Commission race.
Small world, this small town.
Golfing for dollars
Speaking of election stuff, theres more activity in the Columbia County sheriffs race. Clay Whittle weeks ago declared his intention to run for re-election, and businessman Lewis Blanchard continues to plan a challenge next year.
Blanchard has scheduled a fund-raising golf tournament Monday at the newly renovated Jones Creek Golf Club, at $500 per team or $125 per person, with checks pay-able to Blanchard for Sheriff.
Blanchard hasnt made a formal announcement yet, but thats just a formality at this stage. Meanwhile, his biggest handicap isnt on the golf course, but in numbers released by Whittles office last week.
Just as President Bush is buoyed by reports of a third-quarter economic boom, third-quarter crime statistics show Columbia County continues to be a safe place to live. And to play golf.
It was the other guys
Richard Leonard, a worker bee for Linda Schrenkos failed gubernatorial campaign last year, asserts that the Georgia Ethics Commis-sion fined Schrenko for activities of Let Teachers Teach. That was Schrenkos campaign apparatus for state school superintendent - not the governors race. Leonard worked with the latter, and distances himself from the former.
Theres nothing wrong with the governors campaign, Leonard says. All the books are balanced.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to email@example.com.)
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