Praise for the nomination of former state Sen. Randy Hall to a federal judgeship has thus far left out one key factor: Charlie Norwood.
Rumor has it that Norwood, before his death last month, made it clear to Georgia's two U.S. senators that he wanted Hall nominated for the post left vacant with the retirement of Judge B. Avant Edenfield.
Norwood thought a lot of Hall. Part of it is because Hall, a Republican, beat Democrat (and now convicted felon) Charles Walker in his own district.
Norwood was a straight arrow, and he detested Walker's corruption. Norwood, like a lot of others both in and out of the Republican Party, believe Hall ultimately made Walker's prosecution possible because it revealed Walker was not, in fact, invulnerable.
By beating Walker in the District 22 state Senate race in 2002, Hall not only emboldened prosecutors; the loss also likely goaded Walker into even more financial carelessness that sent him to federal prison.
Now, the real moral victory would have been if Hall had been nominated to fill the post left vacant with the retirement of Judge Dudley Bowen - the judge who presided over Walker's trial. Alas, the justice won't be quite so poetic; a Savannah woman has been confirmed for that post.
But it isn't all about Walker. In this case there's another link between Norwood and Hall.
Both are members of Trinity-on-the-Hill United Methodist Church. (So am I, incidentally.)
Congratulations to Hall. He's a fine man and will make a great judge.
Lest we forget
Lest anyone forget the crisis Walker nearly brought to Columbia County, here's a reminder: Prior to that 2002 race, Walker gerrymandered the District 23 state Senate seat, then held by Don Cheeks, to take in two little Harlem precincts.
Walker then put up a candidate - confusingly, with the last name Cheek - to run against Cheeks. If she had won, she would have been Walker's puppet; and with part of her district in Columbia County, Walker would have had a foot in the door of our delegation.
At the time, the Senate was in Democratic control, and Walker was majority leader. Columbia County's delegation was all Republican. So, if a Walker-controlled Democrat had been part of the delegation, she would have had veto power over local legislation.
The plan couldn't have worked any better - for Columbia County: It flopped.
Walker's would-be puppet backed out and Cheeks was re-elected without opposition. Hall won, and with Walker out of office as majority leader, Cheeks was free to switch to the Republican Party and help the GOP take over the Senate. At the same time, Walker nemesis Sonny Perdue was winning the election as the state's first Republican governor.
The Republican takeover of the state House two years later meant that Columbia County's delegation, rather than being subservient to a corrupt Democrat next door, became one of the more powerful legislative groups in the state.
The rest is history.
Back to Norwood: Commissioners gave final approval Tuesday to a small monument with a bronze plaque that will designate the area in front of the Justice Center as the Charlie Norwood Freedom Plaza.
The hope is that the marker will be installed in time for dedication during the Red, White and Blue Veterans Celebration, which will be held on the plaza in front of the courthouse on Saturday, May 26.
This will be the seventh annual Memorial Day weekend celebration for Columbia County, and it will be the first in which Norwood hasn't given the keynote speech.
The marker will be dedicated in his honor this year, and next year we hope to have the new 10th District congressman as a speaker.
Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to barry.paschal at newstimesonline.com.
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