Then there were two.
That's what Columbia County School Board member Mike Sleeper cryptically posted on Facebook after last Monday's meeting of the Greater Columbia County Republican Women.
The meaning soon became clear: Of the three candidates in the District 2 school board race to succeed Mickie Blackburn, the first one to file had announced his withdrawal from the race.
Lee Benedict said while he'd been pondering such a move, he didn't reach a conclusion until he got to the meeting that night.
He said a motivating factor was that he'll need to spend more time helping care for his son, who just turned 11 Thursday. The boy has muscular dystrophy and autism, and his health has been in decline. "My presence will be required a lot more" at home, Benedict explained.
Benedict's decision comes too late to take his name off the ballots as early voting starts Monday, but Elections Director Deborah Marshall says notices will go up in the elections office and later at voting precincts on election day making note of his withdrawal (after he sends them a letter formalizing it, that is).
Not that I expected Benedict to get many votes in this three-way race, but we'll probably see an outcome similar to another recent race in which a candidate made a late withdrawal.
Back in June, state School Superintendent Kathy Cox quit to run a Washington, D.C., think-tank, but she did so too late for her name to come off the statewide Republican primary ballot.
The state sent out notices that Cox was no longer a candidate, but she still received a significant number of votes.
How many? We don't know, exactly, because the state and the county recorded only the votes for either John Barge (the winner) or Richard Woods. But if you look at the number of votes counted in the superintendent's race in Columbia County and statewide and compare it to the total for other races, it appears Cox still received about 25 percent of the vote.
Based on that outcome, we can expect Benedict will still get a few votes even though he's withdrawn from the race, if for no reason other than name recognition.
Voters will have seen his name twice before, from his race in 2007 against Bill Jackson and against Ben Harbin in 2008. They might not know why they know his name, but if voters don't recognize either of the remaining candidates, Kristi Baker or Carl Schluter, they might just vote for Benedict anyway.
I'm sure both remaining candidates will do their best to make sure those District 2 voters know their names so they don't throw away a vote.
Best of luck to Benedict. He wouldn't have won anyway, but at least this way he can't lose. Discretion is the better part of valor, so the saying goes.
Or, as Kenny Rogers sang: "Know when to fold 'em."
Speaking of the school board, the funeral at Harlem's New Holt Baptist Church for the board's first and only black member, Mary Sanders, last Sunday was a sad occasion.
But as a celebration of her 98th birthday the same day, and of her "homegoing," it was as joyous event as I've witnessed in quite some time.
In fact, I wish someone would record an album of the G.R. Dent Gospel Choir. With the exception of spontaneously singing along during the recessional Battle Hymn of the Republic, the women sang just one song - and it was stunningly good.
It also was worth it just to hear Harlem Mayor Bobby Culpepper inadvertently re-ferred to as "Rev. Culpepper." I hope he's reminded of that on a regular basis.
One of the real pastors at the funeral, New Holt's Rev. Melvin Adams, provided a spirited eulogy. Afterward, he also had a plea: They're going to need help keeping Sanders' name alive through the Mary E. Sanders Scholarship Fund.
Donations can be sent to New Holt at 210 Verdery St., Harlem, Ga., 30814.
Maybe they could raise money with a recording of that choir. I'd sure buy one.
(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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