Harlem Mayor Scott Dean considered running for the Columbia County Commission chairmanship, and decided not to. "I will always wonder 'what if?'" Dean says.
Former Columbia County Republican Party Chairman Alvin Starks filed the preliminary paperwork for a run at the chairmanship, but never showed up to file for the race. Ditto Andy Kingery. Word has it that some of the key supporters from his first race four years ago vs. Ron Cross had already thrown their support to the incumbent.
As a result, the July 18 Republican Primary will feature a head-to-head match-up for the chairmanship between Cross and his lone challenger, John Hayes. The primary winner takes the seat, because not only did no other Republicans step up to the plate, but no Democrats filed at all.
In fact, one of the oddities of this year's political season is that Democrat Scott Nichols filed to run against Commission District 1 Republican candidate Ron Thigpen instead of challenging Cross.
There is no question Cross is vulnerable this year. He's been out front on a number of hot-button issues, from fire service to county consolidation. No one shoots at you if you cower in a foxhole, and Cross has been unafraid to stick his neck out. Consequently, he's been shot at more than a few times.
Most of Cross' vulnerability is in blue-collar land, the area of Columbia County outside Martinez-Evans. That's also where the least population is, so a challenger would have to gain a solid following in those areas to have a chance.
Many of the rural areas still have strong Democrat pockets, and Nichols could have appealed to them while going after any potential anti-Cross sentiment in the rest of the county. Instead, Nichols is running as a Democrat in the county's most-Republican district.
Meanwhile, state Reps. Barry Fleming and Ben Harbin face no opposition for re-election, and retiring state Rep. Sue Burmeister will be replaced by an unopposed Barbara Sims. Freshman state Sen. Jim Whitehead also has no opponent.
"The easist way to win is if the other team doesn't show up," said Fleming, while visiting the Grovetown Heritage Festival on Saturday.
Fleming also had a laugh at the expense of Terry Holley, the 9th District Democratic Party chairman who filed to run for the U.S. House against incumbent Charlie Norwood.
Holley ran against Fleming in 2002, and the outcome wasn't even close. "He couldn't beat me so he's going after someone easier by running against Charlie?" Fleming asks, sarcastically.
Grovetown on Saturday was the place for the kickoff of the campaign season.
Barry Davis, Dick Manion and Sonny McDowell have filed to run in the July 18 special election to fill the unexpired term of the late Margie Adams, and at least two of them were making the handshaking rounds at the festival Saturday.
Governor to visit
Gov. Sonny Perdue is scheduled to visit the Columbia County Government Complex today (Wednesday, May 3, 2006) at 5 p.m. for a rally and reception, part of his campaign kickoff tour around the state.
Perdue also is scheduled to return to Columbia County May 11 for the official dedication of the new library. He's coming to town for a big campaign fund-raiser at Champions Retreat, and will visit the library while he's here.
Lots of questions
Both parties turned in lists of questions to the Board of Elections on Monday for inclusion on their July 18 primary ballots. Republican voters will see 14 yes-or-no questions; Democrats will ask 11 questions. We'll publish all 25 of them in Sunday's News-Times.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to email@example.com.)
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