Losing Sue Burmeister in the Georgia House stinks.
It stinks because good, principled conservatives are hard to find. But it also stinks because it gives her left-wing opponents cheap-shot kicks at her backside as she departs.
Few people have grasped the extent of the ascent to power Columbia County's legislative delegation has enjoyed. As part of that delegation, Burmeister hasn't just been along for the ride; she's been one of the drivers.
Strength in the Legislature is all about party affiliation and seniority. When Democrats ran the show, Columbia County's Republican lawmakers were relegated to background roles.
They were still fairly effective. But any big-issue initiatives had to come from the Democrats to have a chance.
That all changed when Republican Sonny Perdue beat Democrat Roy Barnes in 2002. Then a handful of conservative Senate Democrats switched parties, giving the Georgia Senate to the GOP. One election later, Republicans ran it all.
The leap to the top of the ladder was especially stunning on the House side. State Rep. Ben Harbin took over as chairman of the Appropriations Committee. Barry Fleming became majority whip. And Burmeister was named majority caucus secretary.
Burmeister was unafraid to take the lead on tough issues. And one issue, in particularly, put her out front.
The voter ID bill was a common-sense proposal that just drove the Left insane, which they demonstrated with their reaction to the requirement that voters show a photo ID.
Because she was out front, Burmeister caught all the hard shots from the liberals. Especially nasty was the "racist" label after Justice Department insiders leaked their version of her comments defending the bill.
Curiously, the Justice Department still refuses to release transcripts of the interviews with Burmeister. That lack of proof has allowed people like Richmond County Democratic Party Chairman Lowell Greenbaum to continue to call Burmeister "racist," and gloat at her retirement.
I would like to have seen Burmeister run one more time. Getting re-elected - and she would have been - would have validated her efforts and muzzled her critics.
Instead, by stepping down she allows the loony Left to act like the Palestinian terrorists who, when Israel voluntarily withdrew from the West Bank, launched a series of attacks so they could claim they'd chased the Israelis out.
Sue went out sooner than I would have preferred, but she went out under her own power and with plenty of success to show for it. The critics are left with the acidic taste of their own sour grapes.
Columbia County's qualifying period came and went, ending Friday with a whimper rather than a bang.
Former Republican Party Chairman Alvin Starks had filed notice of his intention to seek the County Commission chairmanship, as had Andy Kingery, who ran for the post four years ago and lost to Ron Cross.
Both Starks and Kingery were no-shows. Cross will run for re-election against newcomer John Hayes, a fellow Republican, and the winner has no Democrat opposition in the general election.
Hayes is also a fellow member of Wesley United Methodist Church, where Republican District 2 Commission candidate Ron Thigpen also attends.
Thigpen, in the county's most-Republican district, faces opposition from Democrat Scott Nichols.
Nichols, the Columbia County Democratic Party chairman, will be on the same ticket as former Columbia County Democratic Party Chairman Terry Holley, who signed up to run against Charlie Norwood for the 10th District congressional seat.
No one signed up to run against County Commissioner Lee Anderson in District 4, even though a horde of candidates last ran for that seat.
Not so 'Brilliant'
Cathy Cox's campaign for governor is off to a rocky start.
This past week, her campaign manager, Morton Brilliant, resigned after some political dirty tricks aimed at Cox's Democrat opponent, Mark Taylor.
Brilliant admitted rewriting Taylor's entry in an online encyclopedia to include the arrest of Taylor's son on a drunken-driving charge in which a friend was killed. Brilliant resigned when confronted with it; Cox had told everyone in her campaign to lay off the incident, but apparently the not-so-brilliant campaign manager couldn't resist.
To her credit, Cox issued an immediate apology: "I am genuinely sorry for any anguish this incident has caused the Taylor family."
Taylor has been hit with dirty tricks before. Republican Mitch Skandalakis came after him in 1998 with TV spots implying Taylor was in a mental ward for drug use. The ads were so out of bounds that many people believe they killed Skandalakis' election.
Good for Georgia. Skandalakis went to federal prison a couple of years later in one of those endless Atlanta corruption investigations.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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