Presidential politics next year could complicate the fight to strengthen Georgia's dog-fighting laws.
Word came this week that Fred Thompson's presidential campaign named state Sen. Chip Rogers, R-Woodstock, as Thompson's point man in Georgia.
Rogers has worked the past couple of years to make it a crime to attend dog fights and operate dog-fighter training operations, both of which inexcusably are legal in Georgia.
The Humane Society of the United States recently released its ranking of state dog-fighting laws, and only Wyoming and Idaho have weaker laws than Georgia. Actually, Wyoming seems tougher; though dog fighting is only a "high misdemeanor" there, it's at least illegal there to possess dogs for fighting or to attend a dog fight.
In any event, it's pretty obvious Georgia needs better laws. And with the high profile of the Michael Vick case, there aren't likely to be many lawmakers in the next session of the Georgia Legislature who can avoid supporting Rogers' bill, as far too many of them have done for the past two years.
I just hope Rogers doesn't let presidential politics get in the way.
Help still needed
One boost in the fight against dog fighting: The Georgia Sheriff's Association now offers rewards of up to $2,500 for information leading to arrests and convictions in dog-fighting cases.
Money tends to loosen tongues. Around here we need to loosen a few more wallets, too. Members of the Columbia County Humane Society are suffering from a case of construction-cost sticker-shock over their new kennel and dog park on Columbia Road near Appling.
Some of their scarce funds are being siphoned off with utility relocation, and on entrance construction to satisfy the county and the Department of Transportation. (This is where developers say, "welcome to our world.")
So send them some money, already. The address is Columbia County Humane Society, P.O. Box 204771, Martinez, Ga., 30907.
Starting '08 early
Columbia County Commissioner Lee Anderson this week officially declared his intention to run next year for the state House seat of Barry Fleming, who is running for the 10th District seat in the U.S. House.
Yes, it all does seem tremendously early. Qualifying for either seat won't be until next April.
But, see, even though all politics is local, presidential politics are again intruding. The national candidates have already been campaigning for months. The new expectation of an early start to races apparently has trickled down to our level.
It also means the speculation on who else is running will start sooner than ever.
Will Anderson have competition? Mike Popplewell and Brett McGuire are possible candidates; both say they're considering running.
Anderson's departure opens up a seat on the County Commission. Who will run for it? And who will run for Tommy Mercer's seat if, as expected, he doesn't run again? Both of them ran without opposition in their last race.
Diane Ford also is leaving, but one candidate has already stepped out for that seat. Deanne Hall - chairman of the Columbia County Planning Commission who also is an advertising representative for The Augusta Chronicle - has filed an intent-to-run card.
With three county commission seats turning over to newcomers next year, an entirely new majority will be elected. Four of the five seats on the school board, including the chairmanship, also are up for election. Every county constitutional officer and state lawmaker is facing re-election, too.
If ever there was a wide-open year for local political wannabes, 2008 is it. I just wish it would all wait until 2008 to actually start.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to email@example.com.)
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