When a candidate is running for office, especially one the size of a congressional district, he or she ought to have the details of that district down pat.
In Georgia, for example, you wouldn't give a speech around Warner Robins and refer to "Houston" county, pronouncing it like the city in Texas. Cairo in south Georgia is pronounced with a long "a," unlike the long "i" sound of the older Cairo in Egypt. And, of course, around here we don't pronounce Martinez the same as most people.
Spelling, certainly, is important too. And one of the more sensitive spellings locally is a common misspelling of the biggest town in next-door McDuffie County.
It isn't just nitpicking. The surest way for an outsider to let the folks in Thomson know you are one is to put a "p" in their name.
That's what Bobby Saxon's campaign did the other day. The Democratic candidate for the 10th District U.S. House seat held by Republican Paul Broun sent out a press release calling on Broun to vote in favor of the Wall Street bailout bill.
"The bill is not about Wall Street," Saxon's announcement reads. "It's about Main Street." It then proceeds to list "main streets" of 21 towns in the counties of the 10th District - including "Thompson."
I groaned at the faux pas, and sent Saxon's folks a note pointing out the error. They responded by resending the press release - and repeating the misspelling. (Saxon himself later sent a response, thanking me for the correction and promising to get it right in the future.)
Strangers in any community are accustomed to being asked, rhetorically, "You aren't from around here, are you?" By putting an extraneous letter in the name of McDuffie's county seat, Saxon made sure the people there know it.
Broun has no more claim to being a local boy than Saxon; both live in the northern end of the district.
But north or south, Saxon is seriously misreading the mood of the district - and the country - if he thinks most citizens wanted approval of the $700 billion Wall Street bailout bill and its larded-up laundry list of special interest goodies.
Broun gets it, and voted against the bailout along with the rest of the state's Republican representatives.
But it's hardly a partisan thing. John Barrow, the Democrat in the district next door, voted against it, too. And both of Georgia's Republican senators, Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson, voted for it.
I wouldn't be at all surprised if the bailout didn't put Chambliss in serious danger of losing re-election. It's hard to find a single Republican who wasn't already thoroughly disgusted with him as a classic RINO - Republican In Name Only.
Among other things, he started down this road a few years ago by voting for the prescription drug entitlement bill. Last year, he poked conservatives in the eye by pushing immigration reform that smelled a lot like amnesty.
The big bailout could very well be the last straw. And when he took shots afterward from his Democratic opponent, Jim Martin, he retorted that he guessed Martin would rather see the stock markets nose-dive.
Well, the markets took another drop Monday. Who's to blame now?
Meanwhile, if we can put the scary economic news behind us for a little while, this weekend has plenty of inexpensive diversions.
In addition to the annual FireFest on Saturday at Evans Town Center Park, the Augusta Italian-American Club is celebrating our county's first Columbus Day festival behind the library.
But there likely will be more people Saturday at Wesley United Methodist Church's fall yard sale.
If you're a yard sale fan - and in tough economic times, who isn't? - you really can't miss this one.
Be prepared; it's crowded, but worth every jostle.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to barry.paschal at newstimesonline.com.)
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.