Columbia County's primary elections are less than two months away, and with no Democratic opposition in most local races, Republican Party officials hope voters understand that waiting until the General Election to make a decision will be too late.
"I've had lots of people tell me, 'I'll be there for you in November,"' Columbia County Sheriff Clay Whittle told party members at Saturday's monthly meeting. "They don't realize most of these races will be decided in July."
Whittle, who faces a challenge from fellow Republican Lewis Blanchard, has no Democratic Party opponent, so that race will end with the July 20 primary. Other contested local races to be decided July 20 include the three-way race for chief magistrate, and the two-way race for County Commission District 3.
The Republican Party is holding the first of two public debates Thursday to help raise awareness of the July 20 primary and to give voters an opportunity to meet the candidates.
All 12 candidates in local races are invited to appear in the session, which begins at 7 p.m. at Grovetown Middle School. That includes the two Republican candidates for the District 24 state Senate contest; the winner of that race will face Democrat Chuck Pardue in November.
A second Republican Party debate is scheduled for June 24 at Lakeside Middle School.
In a preview of the debates, members of the Republican Party attending Saturday's monthly breakfast got a chance to hear from most local candidates and from one statewide candidate: Roger Dozier, a Thomson native seeking a seat on the Georgia Public Service Commission.
The three candidates for the Superior Court judgeship being vacated by Judge Albert Pickett addressed the Republicans and touted their legal experience. While the race between Walter Meetze, Sheryl Jolly and Sherry Barnes is non-partisan, the judicial post will be on all primary ballots July 20.
As is the case with the three-candidate magistrate race, the election will be decided in a run-off in August if none of the candidates gets more than 50 percent of the vote.
IF YOU GO
WHAT: Republican Party debate
WHEN: 7 p.m. Thursday
WHERE: Grovetown Middle School
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