U.S. Rep. Paul Broun was scheduled to be in Oconee County Friday at a barbecue with his new BFF, Gov. Sonny Perdue, who last was seen with Broun here at Savannah Rapids Pavilion.
While you might see plenty of Broun and Perdue during the campaign, though, there's one place you apparently won't see him: In Athens debating his Democratic opponent.
Ah, the irony when the shoe is on the other foot. Or when the bobblehead is on the other chair.
See, last year when Jim Whitehead was considered the front-runner in the 10th District race, he took heat from the other nine candidates for not showing up for every single debate and forum.
He attended plenty of them, but unlike most of the other candidates he actually had campaign events of his own. So he couldn't spend all his time riding on their virtual Loser Tourbus.
Thus, when Whitehead didn't appear at the Athens Press Club debate, Broun yukked it up by putting a bobblehead doll in Whitehead's place.
But what bobs around, comes around.
Broun won that race, of course, and then thrashed fellow Republican Barry Fleming in July's primary. He now faces Democrat Bobby Saxon in November.
Shades of Whitehead '07: Broun '08 won't appear in the Athens forum. His folks are saying the debates held during the primary should be enough.
Saxon - who has little chance of defeating Broun in the Republican-heavy district - wants one-on-one debates in each of the district's 21 counties. That's a little overbaked.
But at least one debate? Columbia County's Democratic Party has penciled in the Performing Arts Center for Oct. 4 in hopes of putting the two on stage, but that effort looks like it will fail, too, as Broun bobs and weaves and stays out of Saxon's reach.
Skip the churches
Meanwhile Saxon, who was scheduled to visit Columbia County all day today, might be repeating another Broun campaign tactic - and could get the same negative response.
Last year, before Broun and Abilene Baptist Church Rev. Bill Harrell became pals, Harrell was incensed that while Broun was sitting in a service at Abilene, a Broun staffer was caught putting campaign flyers on churchgoers' windshields.
Here we go again. On Saxon's schedule for his visit today is a request for help from volunteers "by placing campaign literature on cars at local places of worship."
Bad idea. Saxon should ask Broun about that - if he ever sees him.
The Palin Effect
Though Saxon has always been a longshot in the race against Broun, his chances were better before Sarah Palin got into the race.
She's not running in the 10th District, of course. But she'll be on the same ballot - and that spells trouble for a lot of Democrats in Georgia.
See, before Palin, all the talk was about the "Obama Effect" - the belief that Barack Obama's presence on the Democratic ticket would pull other Democratic candidates along.
Palin's entry as Republican John McCain's running mate has all but silenced that talk. Any doubts flew out the window last week when Obama's campaign pulled staffers out of Georgia as a new poll showed McCain-Palin with an 18-point lead.
That's going to hurt longshot Democrats like Saxon. But it's a tremendous boost for Republicans such as former Charlie Norwood staffer John Stone, who is challenging incumbent Democrat John Barrow in the 12th Congressional District that runs from Augusta to Savannah.
Incidentally, word has it that Columbia County's new Republican Party headquarters, across from Club Car, has plenty of "McCain" yard signs - but "McCain/Palin" signs are snapped up as soon as they come in.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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