Deborah McCord, the 9th District chairman for the Georgia Republican Party
and a long-time GOP activist, told party faithful at a Saturday breakfast
about the need to get lots and lots of voters to the polls this fall.
The Bush-Cheney re-election camp wants 28,000 votes for President Bush's
re-election to come from Columbia County, which delivered the 10th-highest
GOP vote total among Georgia counties in 2000. McCord ups the ante,
believing 30,000 or more GOP votes are possible, based on population growth
and the 26,000-plus votes Bush received four years ago.
From that hotly contested election, I've stumbled into a nifty piece of
memorabilia: A genuine, portable voting booth, complete with the punch-card
ballot from 2002.
After the state switched to electronic voting, the booths - which fold up
into something like an attach case - became obsolete surplus. Columbia
County auctioned off a couple of pallet-loads of them recently in a surplus
sale, but the buyer never picked them up.
A handful of the machines were salvaged before the rest were hauled to the
landfill. I was lucky enough to get one with the 2000 election ballot, Bush
vs. Gore, still inside.
The contraption is set up in a corner of my office. All it needs is a punch
card with hanging chads to make a complete set.
In addition to working for Bush's re-election, McCord is tasked to help get
out the vote for other Republican candidates, especially Senate and House
hopefuls and incumbents. The easiest job there, she says, is 9th District
U.S. Rep. Charlie Norwood, an Evans resident serving in a heavily Republican
"We don't have to worry about Charlie," McCord says. "Charlie's going to win
no matter what we do."
Apparently no one has told Bob Ellis yet. He's the Democrat from Evans who
has declared his intent to challenge Norwood this fall. The state Democratic
Party is trying to help, recently sending out a press release linking
Norwood to Richard Thompson, the federal prosecutor who resigned his office
and was accused of launching politically motivated investigations.
The release quotes Ellis as calling for an investigation into "potential
collusion" between Thompson, Nor-wood and any other Republicans (though,
presumably, not any of the Republicans Thompson prosecuted, including
Chatham County School Board member Billy Knight).
Not surprisingly, Norwood has ignored Ellis, whose campaign can hope to get
about as much traction as Buick in a bog - even if it slings as much mud.
Walker vs. Cheeks
Democrats have practically salivated over Thompson's resignation, much in
the same way they've used the prescription drug investigation of Rush
Limbaugh to attack the talk show host.
They've been especially gleeful at the improved prospects for Charles
Walker. After losing to Randy Hall in 2002, the ex-state senator looked like
his political career had gone toes up when Thompson's feds searched Walker's
office and carted off loads of files.
Walker's fortunes seem to have greatly improved since then. Thompson quit in
the middle of the investigation, and then last week the three-judge panel
drawing Georgia's legislative maps drew Walker into a heavily black district
with his nemesis, Republican Don Cheeks.
The federal investigation is far from dead, but if Walker defeats fellow
Democratic Senate candidate Ed Tarver in the primary, the only thing keeping
Walker from returning his hands to the state cookie jar is Cheeks.
If a November election between Walker and Cheeks materializes, watch out; as
state Sen. Joey Brush says, "They ought to sell tickets to that one!"
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail
comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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