After this past week's trickle of allegations that Columbia County District 4 Commissioner Scott Dean had sent inappropriate text messages to a married female county employee, there were two basic reactions: Abject disappointment, or unbridled glee.
The disappointment from his supporters, friends and fellow officials is palpable. While politicians in much higher office have committed far greater transgressions and survived - Bill Clinton and Mark Sanford immediately come to mind - somehow it feels worse when it happens to someone we can run into on the street. It literally hits closer to home.
The delight is practically dripping from Dean's detractors, which includes factions in the always-fractured local Republican Party, his political opponents and by extension critics of Commission Chairman Ron Cross, who announced his own re-election candidacy side by side with Dean.
Especially worrisome is that there are hordes of decent people who've been punched in the gut not only by the allegations, but by the knowledge that bottom-feeders have been handed the satisfaction of scoring points because of Dean's foolish actions.
It's also disappointing, not to mention a dereliction of his basic function as a public official, that Dean slammed the door shut on any comments or explanations about the allegations beyond a few words to a radio reporter. He hasn't said so much as a lame "no comment" to requests from reporters; he's simply ignored all contact.
Ultimately he'll see that's a losing strategy. Because he is someone who can be seen on the street - and, of course, in public meetings - he's just going to force the issue into a public confrontation. He simply can't duck the media and his constituents forever.
Those constituents in the sprawling District 4 are somewhat set adrift by this conveniently timed controversy. The seat is up for re-election nine days from now in the Republican primary, and Dean's opponent simply is not a viable candidate. No Democrats signed up to run for the post, so the election will be decided July 20.
Dean had easily earned re-election prior to this trickling mix of news and gossip. Voters will have to decide July 20 if he still deserves it.
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