What is it about Jim Whitehead losing summertime elections?
Last year, Whitehead was the front-runner for the 10th Congressional District race after the July special election, and then lost in the runoff to Paul Broun.
Then, last week in Aiken, Jim Whitehead lost in a challenge to incumbent Republican South Carolina state Rep. Don Smith for the District 83 seat.
No, it isn't the same Jim Whitehead - ours still lives in Evans, not Aiken County. But you wouldn't know it from reading last Wednesday's Aiken Standard.
There, on the front page, was our Jim Whitehead's picture beside the winning photo of Don Smith. Oops.
Race turns ugly
The photo error was a rare moment of levity in a week of ugly politics.
Whitehead, who is doing quite well in private life, should be happy that he really isn't running for anything this year. The 10th District congressional seat he was seeking last year is ground zero for negative campaigning.
In fact, the Atlanta paper's Political Insider even gave Barry Fleming, the 10th District Republican challenger to Broun, recognition for unleashing Georgia's first television attack ad of the season.
The commercial hit the air about the same time as a mailer from Fleming, attacking one of Broun's votes in Congress. Broun's camp responded with a flurry of e-mail rebuttals.
Details? Let the candidates spell that out for themselves. The two were meeting in debate in Evans Saturday, and undoubtedly the fighting continued.
Bizarre, and wrong
Meanwhile, state Rep. Ben Harbin's challenger, Lee Benedict, sent out a press release this past week making a strange attack that seriously backfired.
Harbin's campaign committee has made two $1,000 donations to Fleming's campaign. That is a legal and common use of campaign funds, a point Benedict acknowledges. But that isn't the issue.
Instead, Benedict filed a complaint with the State Ethics Commission because, he said, Fleming didn't list the donations on his campaign disclosures.
That's right: He isn't blaming Fleming for failing to record the donation; he's criticizing Harbin because of what he alleges is Fleming's non-disclosure.
"I'm not really sure how Benedict arrived at the conclusion that an alleged omission on another candidate's disclosure was my problem," Harbin said in an e-mailed response.
Harbin then points out that donations from the "Committee to Elect Ben Harbin" to his fellow Columbia County legislative delegation member are in fact recorded in Fleming's disclosures on the Federal Election Commission's Web site, and helpfully provides a link for Benedict to see for himself. I had previously found both disclosures.
Making matters worse, Benedict uses the absurd Harbin complaint to then launch a nasty attack on political consultant Jim Cox.
Cox issued a separate response to Benedict's accusations. Cox says he could sue Benedict for libel, but that it would be an "exercise in futility" because of a laundry list of legal judgments already levied against Benedict in Georgia and New York. Ouch.
Benedict used to be in the Army. Don't they teach you to aim before firing?
The Wal-Mart on Bobby Jones Expressway in Martinez, the area's oldest at 20 years, is holding a grand reopening at 9 a.m. Wednesday after months of expansion and renovation.
The event will be big, befitting what is now one of the largest Wal-Mart stores in the Southeast.
How big is it? Since absorbing the next-door space once occupied by a Bi-Lo grocery store, the Martinez Wal-Mart Supercenter is 20,000 square feet bigger than the Evans Wal-Mart - which itself has nearly five acres under its roof.
Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to barry.paschal at newstimesonline.com.
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