Wednesday, November 04, 2009

4 NOV 09: Talk, Don't Run

If talk show hosts such as Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck know what this country needs, why don't they run for office themselves? A special election in Harris County, Troup County and parts of Columbus Tuesday may have revealed the answer. While they brag about a lot of listeners, they don't have the only radio station in town.

Former Columbus radio and TV talk show host Jerry Luquire ran for an open Georgia House seat, and finished last in a four-way race. Voters apparently decided they don't want a lawmaker who's overly.... uh, well.... Luquacious.

Jerry Luquire became well-known in Columbus for hosting talk shows -- first in the evenings on WRCG radio, then with the Monday night "Open Mic" back when TV-16 was WCGT. So he had the potential for providing great soundbites in the Georgia House. Too bad for him that the Senate is the legislative body which has filibusters....

Jerry Luquire told WTVM Tuesday he expected to win the open Georgia House seat if "all the Christians and pro-life voters" went to the polls. But the Columbus and Harris County election boards reported turnout was light - so maybe those voters were in meetings preparing for the January anti-abortion rally.

To be fair: Jerry Luquire focuses on a family publishing business these days. He appeared once or twice on WLTZ's "Rise n Shine" during the special election campaign - but he had some tough competition there. Al Fleming can make comments every bit as startling and jaw-dropping.

So the "star" of the Georgia House race finished last, but who came in first? The leader was Kip Smith, who ran for the seat his father Vance held for years. People who say we don't have "royal families" in this country ought to check how some political offices seem to stay in families for generations.

But Kip Smith did NOT win the Georgia House seat Tuesday. Final unofficial returns show he had 49.4 percent of the vote, falling 28 votes short of a majority. If only the Urban League had provided free rides to the polls in north Columbus....

Kip Smith will go to a runoff 1 December against Steve Earles. Did I hear Earles right on the Tuesday afternoon news -- that he expected to receive about 65 percent of the vote? He did well to finish first in Troup County. This may explain why many Republicans like to say they "don't govern by the polls."

(Am I the only one who thinks Steve Earles looks and sounds a lot like Governor Sonny Perdue? They even seem to have the same barber - who apparently resists the modern trend to call his job a "stylist.")

Several other local offices were on ballots across the area Tuesday. Chattahoochee County voters approved their own special school sales tax - a tax WXTX "News at Ten" showed as being for "educatin." Before you laugh, that IS how some people in the South would pronounce the word....

A mayoral election in Atlanta had some people asking a touchy question. Is it acceptable to vote for candidates simply because of the color of their skin? At least one East Alabama blogger says that makes you a "bigot" - which in 2009 almost sounds like a politically correct way of saying "racist."

Mary Norwood led the voting for mayor of Atlanta, but fell short of a majority. Norwood would become the first European-American mayor of Atlanta in 36 years - and at no point has she called for removing Martin Luther King's name off streets and MARTA stations.

Mary Norwood will meet African-American state Senator Kasim Reed in a December runoff. Reed admitted some people have trouble pronouncing his first name -- and I imagine a few think he's the son of Casey Kasem.

ABC's "Nightline" showed election night parties with both candidates, and it was reassuring to see a racial mix at both of them. But a couple of political scientists caused a stir in recent weeks, by suggesting voters to reject Mary Norwood because she's "white." Kasim Reed rejected such reasoning - and apparently did NOT announce it with Andrew Young standing next to him.

One European-American voter told ABC if Mary Norwood is elected Atlanta mayor, "we won't be known as the A-T-L anymore." This woman must have never taken luggage on an airplane flight from Atlanta, because those letters are on the tags. And does she really think the city would be better, by being known for its "Real Housewives?"

The racial questions raised by the Atlanta mayoral contest could be a preview of the Columbus mayoral election a year from now. But the roles would be reversed, as Columbus never has elected an African-American mayor. Can a candidate gain the same number of votes at both Country's and Chester's Barbecue?

THE BIG BLOG QUESTION on the November 2010 election closed Tuesday night. Five out of eight voters agreed with the idea that all incumbent Columbus Councilors and Muscogee County School Board members should be voted out of office next year. We'll now have to see how many of those five voters actually run for office.

People reading our comments may have already figured it out - but in the sake of full disclosure, this question was posted at the request of School Board candidate Charles Lawhon. He's running against incumbent John Wells next year. Given this outcome, he might start recruiting an all-P.T.A. slate.

The comments section of our poll became inflamed in the last couple of days. A voter brought up the Georgia PTA award in July for suspended Columbus High School principal Susan Bryant, and asked if then-state board member Charles Lawhon supported it. That voter apparently wanted the Georgia law changed for Bryant to ONE strike, you're out.

Charles Lawhon responded by writing he did NOT support the Georgia PTA award for Susan Bryant, and only learned the state President would give her the honor one hour before it happened. But another commenter contended Lawhon and the board should have stopped the award, and perhaps learned about it earlier. It's a classic education question - when should you peek at other people's work?

Another curious comment in our poll was this: "We need pics of the soaked children." C'mon now - the new school sales tax is supposed to "soak" their parents....

Oh wait: this appeal for pictures involved whether Muscogee County schools need covered walkways connecting portable classrooms with main buildings. A writer claims children get soaked often, yet School Board member James Walker maintains that's not true. Nonprofit groups might take a break from providing school supplies next year, and donate umbrellas.

-> Last Sunday turned out to be dramatic for us, in an online poker tournament. Read what happened at our other blog, "On the Flop!" <--

BLOG UPDATE: There may yet be some "Phenix Friday football fireworks flap" fallout. A local pyrotechnic expert told your blog Tuesday a statement made by the President of the Phenix City Central Booster Club can't possibly be true. Uh-oh - now every Troy University injury report by Chris Blackshear might be considered a plot to "psych out" the other team.

Stephen King took issue with Chris Blackshear's claim that the Central Booster Club obtained $10 million in insurance, to shoot fireworks at football games. King says NO one offers that much coverage for fireworks - "not even Lloyd's of London." Lloyd's might provide that much protection for Beyonce's legs, but not for that.

Meanwhile, the Phenix City Council had its regular session Tuesday. Councilor Jimmy Wetzel stole the show, by claiming Mayor Sonny Coulter didn't set foot in his City Hall office for two weeks. Coulter denied it - but why should he have to do that? If you only pay a salary for a part-time mayor, a part-time mayor is what you're going to get.

That's probably more than enough politics for one day. Let's move on to other Tuesday items....

+ A source I tend to trust claims the Darius Rucker concert at the Civic Center 15 November is about to be canceled, because ticket sales are slow. When a promoter sings "Don't Think I Don't Think About That," he's probably referring to his profits.

+ Ground was broken in Americus for the new Phoebe Sumter Medical Center, replacing the building ruined by the 2007 tornado. The new center should open in the summer of 2011 -- even though it's in the hometown of Habitat for Humanity, and you'd think its volunteers could build it much faster.

+ WRBL reported the Auburn City Council voted to allow a second cable TV service. Knology will compete against Charter - and I suppose the agreement has something in the fine print about blacking out all talk shows featuring Nick Saban.

+ Montevallo stunned top-seeded Columbus State 1-0, in the first round of the Peach Belt Conference women's soccer tournament. That's pretty sneaky of the Cougars - making sure they get plenty of extra rest before the NCAA tournament.

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