My great-grandmother was a Blanchard. Lewis Blanchard's wasn't, because he was adopted into the Blanchard family.
But while I can honestly claim more Blanchard blood than he can, I don't buy the grumbling from some of Sheriff Clay Whittle's folks who say Blanchard is claiming relatives that aren't really his, in hopes of capturing some of the old family loyalties in the race for Columbia County sheriff. (Hired political gun Candi Sprague's letter today mentions the issue.)
The fact is that family ties in Columbia County just don't mean much any more. When I was born in this county, fewer than 10,000 people lived here. Now there are nearly 100,000. If you figure that many of those original 10,000 have moved away or died, few of those who were here in 1961 are here now.
It's sad to see the old families, mine included, diluted by time and the influx of new residents to the county. But it happens. And it means that it's just as silly for Blanchard's supporters to bank on the electoral value of the name as it is for Whittle's backers to criticize its authenticity.
After all, they're not competing for a spot in England's hereditary House of Lords.
The company they keep
It isn't family ties helping or hurting some candidates in the upcoming July 20 primaries, but political ties.
Even though it is a non-partisan post, two of the candidates for the superior court judgeship are playing up their Republican credentials to label Sheryl Jolly a Demo-crat -- at least here in Columbia County, where voters are either 70 percent or 84 percent Republican (depending on whether you're asking Democrats or Republicans).
The spot on the Augusta Circuit bench will be to replace the retiring Albert Pickett. The election includes Columbia, Rich-mond and Burke counties.
Jolly has a strong following among conservatives because she's been a prosecutor in the District Attorney's office, and because for the past eight years she's prosecuted misdemeanor cases as Augusta's solicitor general. Her name recognition also is very strong because she was a candidate for the last judicial appointment that eventually went to Mike Annis.
But Jolly also has some serious baggage, and not just her Democratic Party affiliation. One of her campaign chairmen is Jack Long, who is a long-time attorney for indicted former lawmaker Robin Williams. And her treasurer is accountant Kip Plowman. The initials "KP" appear in the indictment of Charles Walker as the accountant signing off on what the FBI says is Walker's phony circulation audit for his newspaper.
Jolly's husband also has donated generously to Walker.
Still, Jolly will get a lot of mileage out of tagging her opponents -- Sherry Barnes and Walter Meetze -- as trial lawyers. Unless they're in trouble, folks just don't like trial lawyers.
In Columbia County, though, most folks don't vote for Democrats, either. At least, 70 or 84 percent of them don't, depending on whom you ask.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to email@example.com.)
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