In what seems to be The Election Season That Would Never End, Georgia voters head back to the polls Tuesday for some unfinished business.
None of the business is purely local, mind you. All our races are over until this fall. Some folks seem to have a hard time accepting it, but yes, Ron Cross won.
Statewide, though, there are still five races that haven't been settled: Four on the Republican ballot, and one on the Democratic ballot.
First, that Democratic race: Gail Buckner and Georganna Sinkfield are in a runoff to determine which of them will lose this fall to Republican Secretary of State Brian Kemp. (Sorry, ladies, but that's just reality.)
Just more than 2,200 voters in Columbia County chose Democrat ballots July 20, and will be locked into voting in the Democrats' runoff. Likewise, the more than 13,000 voters who chose a Republican ballot can vote only in the Republican runoff. Those who didn't vote at all can choose either ballot.
Voters have four races on that Republican ballot. Foremost is the fight to see who gets to lose to Roy Barnes in November. (Just kidding.)
Karen Handel and Nathan Deal finished first and second in the race for governor, with Handel getting 34 percent of the vote and Deal taking 23 percent. In Columbia County, Handel got 58 percent, Deal 20 percent.
Incidentally, Ray McBerry got just 2.5 percent statewide; 235 voters in Columbia County, or 1.81 percent, wasted their vote on him. Can he now please get the message that he is not going to be elected? Ever?
Six other candidates face off in three other GOP races.
In the race for attorney general, the top vote-getter was Sam Olens, with Preston Smith coming in second.
Smith, a state lawmaker, pulled down 42 percent of Columbia County's vote in the primary and should have expected to be strong here in the runoff. But that was before the revelations came out that he had admitted to two adulterous affairs - including one with a young campaign staffer where his wife caught them in the act. Whoops.
Smith also is the guy who single-handledly blocked the state from getting a stronger death-penalty. No, thanks.
For insurance commissioner, the top finisher statewide in the nine-candidate primary was Ralph Hudgens, who was just a few hundred votes ahead of Maria Sheffield. Hudgens actually came in third in Columbia County, so he'll have a lot of ground to cover to pick up the win.
Lastly, GOP voters will see the race for public service commissioner. The county's chosen candidate, former state Sen. Joey Brush, got just more than 50 percent of the vote from fellow Columbia County residents - but came in last place (fourth) statewide.
With 35 percent of the vote statewide, Tim Echols led John Douglass at 28 percent. The two will face off Tuesday, and Echols visited Columbia County Monday in hopes of picking up Brush's voters.
Some folks might remember Echols helped run Paul Broun's victorious campaign for Congress. Echols also ran the early stages of John Oxendine's campaign for governor - and many (including me) believe Oxendine's precipitous drop from first place in the polls to fourth place on election day was a direct result of Echols leaving to run his own race.
Barely 21 percent of Columbia County voters turned out for the primary; the numbers are expected to be drastically lower in the runoff. Prove the predictions wrong by voting early this week, or on Tuesday.
Among many other things, Bette Sargent was an occasional columnist for The News-Times. Sadly, her passing means we won't get to read more of her folksy reminiscences of the old days of Harlem.
In my fondest dreams, more people in Columbia County would find the value in their community and its history that Ms. Sargent saw in Harlem. She loved her city, and she loved telling others about it.
She will forever be a part of that history, and I know that especially would make her proud.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail email@example.com. Follow at twitter.com/barrypaschal.)
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