Columbia County has had visits from many of the candidates for next year's statewide elections.
But the electioneering wasn't official until Saturday.
That's when state Sen. Bill Jackson threw a party in the backyard of his circa 1835 home out in Appling, featuring barbecue, music and political speeches.
At the top of the speechifying ticket was U.S. Rep. Nathan Deal, who had also spoken that morning at the Columbia County Republican Party breakfast.
Deal is among the dozen or so candidates running for governor, the two speeches Saturday were his formal introduction to Columbia County politics.
The almost universal response: Boooooring.
Deal is a nice fellow, but he's about as engaging as a lecture on dental insurance, and far less detailed. He told us more about how he came up with his campaign slogan than why he should be the next governor. (The slogan: "Deal. Real." He explained that he took the old saying, "real deal," and "switched it around." Wow.)
Don't count him out, though. The last time a former-Democrat-turned-Republican ran for governor and kicked off his campaign with a barbecue at former-Democrat-turned-Republican Bill Jackson's house, he went on to win the election. Can former-Democrat-turned-Republican Deal likewise follow Sonny Perdue's footsteps to the governor's mansion?
Before he does, he's sure going to have to pep up those speeches.
Other than the power of incumbency as a member of Congress, one of the best things Deal has going for him is the support of the widow of Charlie Norwood, his former colleague in the U.S. House.
Gloria Norwood ascended the stage for brief but well-received comments at Jackson's barbecue, proving once again that she's the closest thing to political royalty that Columbia County has.
Also stumping for votes Saturday were state Sen. Ralph Hudgens, who wants to be insurance commissioner, and former state Sen. Brian Kemp, running for secretary of state.
The primary elections are a year away. It's going to be a long year by the looks of it.
Oh, what a coincidence.
In my column Sunday, I noted the so-called "major forum" on "Justice Department misconduct" set for the previous Friday in Washington, D.C., in which Charles Walker Jr., among others, was to complain that Democrats are targets of politically motivated federal prosecutors.
The announcement of the forum noted that U.S. Rep. John Conyers, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, was to be a key speaker.
Guess what else was happening Friday morning at the same time as that forum alleging "misconduct" by federal prosecutors?
Conyers' wife, Detroit City Council President Pro Tem Monica Conyers, was in federal court pleading guilty to bribery!
According to a Detroit Free Press story, the U.S. attorney handling the case said there's no evidence Rep. Conyers knew about his wife's activities, though he might have been curious as to how she came up with extra cash from the two bribes she admitted taking from a waste-hauling company for which she provided the winning vote for a city contract.
One of the Free Press stories said Conyers didn't attend his wife's hearing. "It's not immediately clear where John Conyers is this morning," it said. I sent the paper a copy of the press release so they'd know Conyers was scheduled to be in Washington, D.C., bellyaching about federal prosecutors' "misconduct" while his wife was back home pleading guilty to federal bribery charges.
As it turns out, the Free Press' Washington correspondent, Justin Hyde, says Conyers didn't show up for the "major forum," either.
That was probably a wise decision. Because C-SPAN bought the hype and sent a camera, we were able to see that the "major forum" was mostly Charles Walker Jr. giving a speech to a couple dozen people.
Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail email@example.com.
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