And the winner is:
Mark Whitaker. Or is it Maark Whhitaker?
The husband of Columbia County School Board member Roxanne Whitaker, a fellow North Columbia Elementary School alumnus whom I've known just about my whole life, received the most write-in votes in Tuesday's election. At least I guess that's who they meant.
Whitaker (or, in that one case, Whhitaker) was the write-in choice of two absentee voters and one live voter in the special election for District 4 county commissioner.
Those three votes don't actually count, and none of the write-in names in Tuesday's election actually were eligible to win. Write-in candidates have to be certified in advance in a special election, and none were.
There were three special elections Tuesday: that District 4 race, the Harlem mayoral race to replace Scott Dean and the Grovetown city council race to replace David Daughtry. Write-in votes were possible for all three.
In Scott Dean's victory over David Payne, the 19 write-ins were the most of any race, but had no effect on the outcome as Dean got nearly 71 percent of the 3,240 votes cast.
With all write-ins combined, Whitaker (or Whhitaker) still gets recognition for receiving more write-in votes in the three local special elections than any other write-in name.
Second place is a tie between Lee Anderson (or "leeandr"), Grovetown resident and former school board candidate Richard Hogue (or "hogue"), Democratic Party, "no one" and "none of the above."
And in what perhaps is a sign of things to come, or of terrible spelling ability, "Borock Boma" got one vote.
Once the vote tallies started coming in, the outcomes of Tuesday's elections were never in question. There were no close races, with winners beating their opponents in every race by at least 2-1 margins.
In Mike Sleeper's informal poll in which he asked other political junkies to predict the winning percentage in each of the races - not the winner, just the margin of victory - the prognosticators came pretty close to the winning number in three of five contests.
The actual winning margin in the Lee Anderson-Brett McGuire race was far larger than predicted, however, as was the difference in the Charles Allen-Deanne Hall race.
Most of those participating, me included, predicted those races would have been much closer than their actual outcomes. The predictions were off by nearly 13 points in Anderson's win, and 14 points in Allen's victory.
Most of my predictions were pretty close. I had Paul Broun-Barry Fleming at 54 percent; Broun actually beat Fleming with 58 percent (in Columbia County). I had Anderson-McGuire at 62 percent; the actual vote was 69 percent. My margin on Ben Harbin vs. Lee Benedict was 65 percent; Harbin was stronger with 69 percent.
My closest prediction was Dean-Payne; I guessed 72 percent, and Dean won with 71 percent. My worst was Allen-Hall; I predicted 53 percent, with the actual vote at 68 percent.
What's it all mean? About as much as those write-in votes.
Ex post defacto
Incidentally, I was amused Tuesday at the number of instant experts who puffed out their chests to tell me me they'd "known all along" that Fleming would not only lose the 10th District congressional race, but that he'd be defeated in his home county.
Funny how I didn't hear those boastful predictions until after the votes were tallied. In that spirit, I confidently predict that the Titanic will sink, Bambi's mom will get shot and Trevor Immelman will win the 2008 Masters.
Oh, and Ben Harbin will be re-elected in a landslide. Remember: You read it here first.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to barry.paschal at newstimesonline.com.)
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