By Corporal Gripweed
"If we would learn what the human race really is at bottom, we need only observe it in election times."
These words have never seemed to be more true, than in the race for the District 12 Congressional seat.. It seems as if the candidates have forgotten Ronald Reagan's famous 11th commandment, "speak no ill of a fellow Republican." The only exception before the July 31st primary was Maria Sheffield, who ran a clean campaign, and ended up dead last in the voting.
After a recount, there are only two candidates left standing. Lee Ivey Anderson, and Rick Allen.
So please allow me to handicap the race as I see it:
Lee Anderson has gained the endorsement of the two other candidates, Wright McLeod and Maria Sheffield. Rick Allen is ahead in fundraising. Anderson seems to be very popular in the rural counties which he carried the lion's share of the votes. This stands to reason, as he has extensive political experience dating back to 1985, and more recently as a State Representative since 2008.
Rick Allen is a political neophyte who garnered more support in the urban and suburban parts of the primary race. This, too, makes sense as his construction firm, which has offices in Augusta and Athens, has been awarded large contracts for many public building projects throughout the district. So far a fairly even spread sheet.
But here come the variables:
Will the endorsements of the other two candidates translate into votes? Traditionally, when someone's candidate fails to move forward after a primary, the return rate to vote for the endorsed candidate drops precipitously. Meaning, they are excited for their candidate but not so much for whom their candidate endorses. Also, factor in that Lee Anderson endorsed the disastrous TSPLOST, which the most populous counties in District 12 (with the exception of Richmond County) voted overwhelmingly against. This makes Sheffield's (a Tea Party candidate) endorsement even more puzzling to me. These two things will definitely haunt Anderson in the run-off on Tuesday..
Rick Allen has the advantage/disadvantage of not having much experience politically. While not necessarily a bad thing, he has much less of a track record to critique and has not had time to build coalitions which can be imperative to getting things done in government. Also, his business has thrived due to lucrative government contracts. At more than one forum he has bragged that over the course of three recessions his company has never had to lay off even one worker. I submit that is because the taxpayers indirectly pay most of his payroll.
As you can see, neither candidate is perfect. Both have their flaws and weaknesses. But, let's remember the goal. For me, as a conservative, the goal is to defeat John Barrow. For both men's strengths and weaknesses, I feel the stronger candidate is Rick Allen. While I love Lee Anderson's "folksy" persona, this will be a liability in debates against a polished incumbent like Barrow. That, and his support of TSPLOST, made up my mind.
Rick was not my first, nor even my second choice, but now that it's between him and Anderson, I feel that Rick has a better shot at defeating Barrow ----- to that end I say we ALL should follow the "11th commandment" more often and resort to mudslinging less in order to achieve the goal of putting the best person in office, therefore rendering Mark Twain's observation moot ----- But I'm not holding my breath.***