At the beginning of the year I reluctantly made some New Year's resolutions and said I'd come back at the end of the year for a reckoning.
Events being what they are, I reckon a couple of them need retooling.
For example, I resolved that I'd weigh less at the end of the year than at the beginning. I'm already kept on track for that, and should be in good shape.
But during the recent special election runoff, I almost broke one of the resolutions: To pay less attention to noisy, often negative people.
After Columbia County's Jim Whitehead lost the runoff for the 10th District U.S. House seat to Paul Broun of Athens, I almost let cynics convince me that they had helped build a groundswell to boot Whitehead here at home.
Then I looked at the numbers. Whitehead lost because of low turnout here at home, much of it from people who took his win for granted. And he lost because Broun was the recipient of lopsided voting in his Athens hometown.
But Whitehead didn't lose because the people in Columbia County dislike him. The negative folks won't want to hear them, but facts can be stubborn things. Here they are:
- Whitehead won Columbia County with 73 percent of the vote. With the exception of Judge David Roper's stunning 78 percent runoff win last December, that is the highest vote total for any recent candidate. To put it in perspective, everyone was amazed at the extent of Bill Jackson's win June 19 - at 63 percent. In Columbia County, Jackson received 65 percent.
- Whitehead won every precinct in Columbia County by blowout margins, including precincts with strong Democrat numbers. His lowest share was in the Burks Mountain precinct, where he still received 62 percent of the vote.
- Three precincts, spread across the county - Damascus Baptist Church, Blanchard Park and Savannah Rapids Pavilion - gave Whitehead nearly 80 percent of the vote, echoing the 80 percent he received from absentees and early votes that also come from all over the county.
In the end, Whitehead came up just 394 votes short from the anemic 46,664 votes cast. Broun ran a better district-wide campaign in the runoff period, some of it by devising a clever divide-and-conquer strategy of claiming to his own hometown folks that Whitehead himself was trying to split the district.
But Whitehead didn't lose because of some uprising from his neighbors. If it were up to them, he'd be setting up his 10th District office right now instead of sitting in his office at the tire store.
In the end, I'm sure losing is no fun. But at least he's a winner at home.
The actual winner of the race stopped by the office shortly after the election to get well-earned congratulations and to pledge to Columbia County that he'll work hard to be our congressman here, too.
As one of Paul Broun's local supporters points out, he'd be crazy to do otherwise. Even before the results were final, moves were already afoot to recruit a local challenger to Broun next year; he knows he has a narrow window of opportunity to prove himself.
Broun says he's happy to finally have prevailed after having lost three previous races. He says winning feels a lot better than losing.
Incidentally, one of our pieces of business during his visit was to invite him to speak at next year's Red, White and Blue Veterans Celebration in Evans. We've always had the 10th District congressman as the main speaker - but then, we've always had Charlie Norwood.
Though it's too early to commit, Broun says he'll try. We'll look forward to it.
Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to barry.paschal at newstimesonline.com.
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