Ever since former state Sen. Joey Brush was defeated for re-election in 2004 by Jim Whitehead, each year brought new speculation for when he'd attempt a comeback.
Would he go after his former Senate seat, now held by Bill Jackson? Would he seek Lee Anderson's House seat? Would he drop to the county level and seek a county commission post? Or would his appointed spot on the county's Construction Advisory Board be enough?
The speculation ended Thursday when Brush filed the paperwork to run for the open statewide seat on Georgia's Public Service Commission.
Two days earlier, Bobby Baker had unexpectedly announced he wouldn't run for re-election. It was a jerky thing to do; by waiting until there were less than three days of qualifying left, Baker assured that no one - or, conversely, only a candidate of his choice - would be prepared to run.
Though he's been out of the game for nearly six years, Brush will certainly get a boost in the race through the contacts he made while serving in both the state House and Senate.
Surprisingly, though, the same day Brush filed for the seat, Tim Echols announced that he would run for it, too.
Echols had been serving as the campaign manager for John Oxendine's gubernatorial bid, and before that served in the same capacity for U.S. Rep. Paul Broun.
Here's an oddity: As Broun's campaign manager in 2008, Echols' biggest target was Whitehead - the same man who knocked Brush out of office four years earlier.
Echols, of Athens, is perhaps best known for his connections to the home-school community, and his skill at recruiting grassroots volunteers. His work for Oxendine likely will benefit him, too.
In addition to Echols and Brush, Republicans John Douglas, of Social Circle, and Jeff May, of Monroe, have entered the race, along with lone Democrat Keith Moffett, of Macon. But Brush and Echols undoubtedly will have the highest profiles in the Republican primary in what is usually a largely ignored race.
Meanwhile, their shared former opponent is a lingering mystery: When, or if, will Jim Whitehead make his long-rumored and much-anticipated return to politics?
If nothing else, I understand there soon will be an opening on the county's Construction Advisory Board.
Addendum: Every local state lawmaker just won re-election without a challenge when no one filed to run against them. Anti-incumbent mood? Not around here.
Pat takes charge
Meanwhile, congratulations to Pat Goodwin. The county's Republican Party members met Tuesday, held hands, sang campfire songs, made s'mores and elected her as party chairman.
Many local Republicans justifiably hold high hopes for party unity now, and not just because dissenting members have been taken out back and shot. Goodwin has a well-deserved reputation as getting things done in multiple volunteer roles.
For example, despite considerable bellyaching from our county's Chamber of Commerce brethren next door, Goodwin worked hard to start Leadership Columbia County.
The first class of the program holds its graduation in a couple of weeks, and no one deserves more credit than Pat. There's no reason to believe she won't be equally successful in rebuilding the GOP.
Incidentally, Thursday (May 6) is the deadline for applications for the Columbia County Chamber's second leadership class. Call (706) 364-0425 or go to www.columbiacounty chamber.com to apply.
And back to the partisan stuff: Local Democrats again couldn't persuade anyone to run for office, so filing ended Friday with no Democrats in local races.
That means those races - for County Commission chairman and Commission District 4 - will be decided in the July 20 Republican primary.
A great coach
When I started as a sophomore at Harlem High School - the freshman class at that time attended junior high - Jimmie Lewis was a young assistant coach.
Lewis soon took over as head baseball coach, and from there has established a phenomenal record in 32 seasons.
Lewis hit a big milestone Wednesday as his Bulldogs earned his 600th win. He attributed every victory to his players: "Great players make great coaches," he said after the game. "Bad players make ex-coaches."
Congratulations to a great coach - and to all the great players who made him that way.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow at twitter.com/barrypaschal.)
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