Lee prevails in close vote
by Jon Gillooly
August 22, 2012 01:37 AM | 9254 views | 53 53 comments | 33 33 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Cobb Chairman Tim Lee, left, shares his excitement with Kennesaw Mayor Mark Mathews on Tuesday night after winning his re-election bid.
Cobb Chairman Tim Lee, left, shares his excitement with Kennesaw Mayor Mark Mathews on Tuesday night after winning his re-election bid.
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MARIETTA — Cobb Republicans kept county Chairman Tim Lee in office in Tuesday’s primary runoff over former county chairman Bill Byrne.

With all votes except provisional ballots counted, Lee won 14,309 votes (52%) over Byrne’s 13,014 votes (48%) — though the earliest results showed Byrne leading Lee. Only 27,323 votes were cast in the race. There are 398,052 registered voters in Cobb, though not all of them voted Republican.

Lee attributed his win to “a very well-thought-out plan, great grassroots supporters, and a very intelligent electorate.”

“I’m exhausted, relieved, humbled and very appreciative that Cobb County trusts me to move forward for the next four years,” Lee said.

Byrne, who watched the returns at the Marietta Conference Center with about 100 supporters, said it was clear the voters had made their choice.

“I wish him well and hope he brings together the board and takes them in a positive direction as we work our way out of this recession,” Byrne said. “You’re always disappointed when you lose, but we knew going into this the odds were against us,” he said. “We were outspent 7 to 1 and sometimes you just can’t beat money.”

Byrne said his biggest frustration was low turnout.

“Win or lose, that’s just disgusting,” he said. “I hope it’s not an indication of what it’s going to be like in the fall.”

The former chairman insisted he will still be around.

“I’ll go back to my business and reenergize it, get that back moving again. And I’m going to come back very active in the Republican Party and work for candidates in the future,” he said. “We gave our best effort, gave the voters a choice and they’ve made the choice.”

Lee celebrated his victory in the ballroom of the Embassy Suites in Kennesaw with about 200 supporters. Family members in attendance were his father, Douglas Lee, a retired electrical engineer for Ford Motor Company and part-time minster; his wife, Annette Lee, facilities manager for MUST Ministries; his brother, Danny Lee of east Cobb, who works in the purchasing department for WellStar, and Danny’s wife, Mindy, an administrative assistant for the cancer center at WellStar.

Michael Paris, CEO of the Council for Quality Growth, and a Lee supporter, was also at the party.

“Tim has been one of the best chairmen we’ve ever had. Tim has provided leadership for this county. Kept our bond rating up and is always looking forward for the county, and that’s the kind of leadership we need in the county.”

Others at Lee’s party included WellStar CEO Reynold Jennings; Mary Lou Stephens of the Town Center CID; Cobb Chamber chief operating officer Demming Bass; county manager David Hankerson; Cobb DOT Director Faye DiMassimo; Development Authority of Cobb County executive director Nelson Geter; and Kennesaw Mayor Mark Mathews, among others.

In the four-person July 31 Republican Primary, Lee was the top vote-getter, with 40 percent of the vote. Byrne won 27 percent.

Following the primary, last-place finisher Larry Savage endorsed Byrne, while Mike Boyce, who came in third, did not endorse anyone.

Lee was backed by the establishment, from Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce CEO Sam Williams and Atlanta Regional Commission Chairman Tad Leithead to Cobb Chamber CEO David Connell. As such, he was able to bring much more money than Byrne.

Lee said Friday that he raised $56,455 since Aug. 1 and $441,320 for the entire campaign.

Lee hired two consulting firms to advise him in his race, Joel McElhannon with Athens-based South Public Affairs Consulting, who helped him in his first campaign, and Jeremy Brand with Brand LLC.

By contrast, Byrne said he raised between $6,000 and $7,000 for the runoff and about $75,000 all together.

Over the course of the campaign, Lee said electing Byrne would return the county to the 1980s. He blamed Byrne for a failed monorail proposal, a failed recycling plant, and an anti-gay resolution that outraged 1996 Olympic organizers.

He also ripped Byrne’s latest proposal that east Cobb residents consider forming their own City of East Cobb, dismissing it as another layer of government.

Comments
(53)
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No Winners ...
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August 24, 2012
There are no winners !

This election clearly shows that a very small majority of the registered voters, that went to the polls, think like Tim Lee. It is a shame that a higher percentage of voters did not turn out.

My vote for Byrne was for the lesser of two weasels.

Now can we start a search for a real replacement for Tim Lee? Are there any empty suits out there willing to run?

How soon will Tim Lee have MARTA bus stops on Austell Rd, Powder Springs Rd, Cherokee St, Church St, Sandy Plains Rd, Canton Rd ....etc ... etc?

Regrettable X2
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August 22, 2012
Afraid Cobb County will suffer from now on, my friends. Will the last Conservative in Cobb please turn out the lights when you leave.
NOT Happy
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August 22, 2012
Any way you slice it, 48% of Cobb Voters voiced their disapproval of Lee. Hopefully he will allow that to impact his decision making process. We really had no choice....devil vs deep blue sea!
West Cobb Farmer
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August 22, 2012
As I commented after the primary... you go up to the voting machine and toss a coin... Heads Mr.Personality... Tails the Village Idiot. My toss came up Tails so I voted for Lee and frankly, I'm glad. And, I'm glad that he beat Byrne.

During Byrne's time as chairman our neighborhood had a zoning issue. A group of us citizens went and met with Mr. Byrne to discuss our issue. He treated us like peasants. He was rude. He was disrespectful. He didn't listen to our needs. He didn't listen to the people he was elected to serve, period. After the meeting I just happened to pass him in the parking deck. Again, I thanked him for his time and for meeting with our group. He completely ignored me and my polite offer of a handshake. Bill Byrne does not need to be in government in any capacity, period.

Big Daddy
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August 22, 2012
I am a proud subscriber to the MDJ. WHERE is my ORIGINAL post that I posted here early this morning. Wake up MDJ and smell the coffee!!
Big Daddy
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August 22, 2012
What a very sad day for Cobb County.
East Cobb Republican
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August 22, 2012
Tim Lee is a 'tax and spend' chairman?!?!? Seriously??!?! Stop it, you're killing me, my sides are aching from laughing so hard.

Thank God, and responsible voters, that the Village Idiot, aka Bill Byrne, was NOT elected.
Cobb for Lee
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August 22, 2012
Maybe Bill will try and run for commissioner in Polk County again. Better yet, I hear Clayton needs a strong willed person. Could you image Bill as Clayton County Commissioner..........
Tax Payer
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August 22, 2012
Don't get too comfortable Tim, the lesser of two evils was voted in....fellow citizens we need to watch him like a hawk and hopefully he doesn't do to much damage before the next election.
THE TRUTH...
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August 22, 2012
...WILL SET YOU FREE.

OH GLORY!!!!
D R Stephens
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August 22, 2012
Hopefully Lee will thrown out next time.
Counter-factual
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August 22, 2012
No matter what you people say about Bill, we can all agree on one industry he clearly would've led to prosperity: tin foil.

In one sense, Tim Lee is hurting the tin foil producers because his victory deprives Cobb of a chairman who would've covered all of Cobb County government's doors and windows in foil.
Keep Cobb Clean
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August 22, 2012
In all seriousness, I hope the first thing on the agenda is a mandate that all campaign signs get cleaned up and taken down in the next few days or offenders face a fine. That is a good step in the right direction -- get rid of junk signs all over the county. The next one should be to get rid of the thousands of subdivision sale signs that abound all over the county. Cobb County is the junkiest sign county I ever saw...telephone poles, utility polies, anything that stands has a sign on it.
Regrettable Results
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August 22, 2012
How could the Cobb taxpayers be so stupid?? Tim Lee forced a March 2011 SPLOST (as a special election day -- about $600,000 to hold a county-wide election) and insisted if we didn't approve the SPLOST that property taxes would go up. Well, less than two months later, our property taxes did go up -- with a millage increase. Our taxes were increased twice in the same year!!!

Folks, never vote yourself a tax increase (like another SPLOST). This is going to be a Cobb-Chamber-of-Commerce centered four years, so kiss your legitimate concerns goodbye!! Tim is only worried about his future -- campaign money and positions that pay -- and not concerned with us!!! Once again, no one bothered to follow the MDJ aricles about Timmy Lee and his lousy job of "governance"!!! Now we all suffer for another four years!!!!
so it goes
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August 22, 2012
All politics is local as someone once said. The most astonishing part of all this is the process. Why on earth are so few involved in the process on election day? Why do so few participate in the very act of voting when the winners will govern our lives and loosers simply become part of the governed? It concerns me greatly when so many no longer participate in the process while the spoils go to those who really received an affirmative nod from so few.
anonymous
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August 22, 2012
Why is it that Michael Paris and others -- who have lots of financial benefit to reap from Cobb Commision decisions -- are the ones quoted in your articles??? There are over 800,000 Cobb residents and you quote those with financial interest in Lee's decision???

The MDJ needs to start reporting from a large group or go back to the 1850s reporting style.
By the hair of our .
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August 22, 2012
That goodness Bill Byrne did not win. I may not agree with everything Lee thinks, as a matter of fact he has a tendency to speak before he's put in enough thought. But, at least we won't be subject to a person that has a picture of himself hugged up on Anne Coulter!!!!! Arrrrrgggggh!
AskMe
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August 22, 2012
@By the hair of our.

I am afraid what we WILL be subjected to is Tim Lee with his lips puckered up ready to kiss the backside of anyone he thinks will promote his self serving agenda.

Happy Camper
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August 22, 2012
What a wonderful day to live in Cobb! I regret so few choose to exercise their right to vote. Small turn our or not, Tim Lee IS our Chairman and I am thrilled. Now we can get back to the serious work at hand. No, it won't be easy, but morale in the county will improve considerably, in fact, that began immediately! Having the opponent threaten and/or try to intimidate other commissioners, staff, Lee supporters, etc. had resulted in an environment in which it is hard to be productive. Lee is a consensus builder and excellent manager. Get out of his way and let him work, now... rather than spend time trying to convince people who are negative about everything.
URKiddingRight?
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August 22, 2012
Tim Lee IS our Chairman and I am thrilled.
Happy as a Clam
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August 22, 2012
Happy Camper, you just keep on drinking Tim Lee's Kool-Aid. I am a county employee, and I would like to get a raise sometime in the near future. Tim Lee has overseen four years of tough decisions which included investment in a safety village that they have since tried to pawn off on the Cobb School District. Now that's leadership! Put county money into a failed venture, and then try to get someone else to take the helm.

Incidentally, why do we need to get out of his way if he's so good at building consensus?

I'm happy too, but it has nothing to do with Tim Lee.
URKiddingRight?
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August 22, 2012
Tim Lee IS our chairman and I am thrilled!
A Taxpayer
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August 22, 2012
"Tim Lee IS our Chairman and I am thrilled"

Do you think Happy Camper must be Tim's wife?

Old Man
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August 22, 2012
To all you Byrne supporters - maybe your candidate Lost because enough people in this county remember how Bully tried to isolate Cobb and cost us alot of money. And his East Cobb City proposal was just plain dumb. I worked in Cobb government when he was in charge - what an arrogant person. People would greet him only to get a cold hard stare back like he was too good to answer. At one point all the commissioners and Short-man came by to speak to some employees. Mr. Attitude kept his hands in his pockets and wouldn't associate with us. Cobb would have been sorry had he been elected. I'm no Lee supporter but when you have no choice, what can you do? Maybe next time someone good will run.
leChat
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August 22, 2012
Lee didn't win because of yard signs, newspaper stickers, or wealthy backers...or even because he was particularly good. He won because enough people realized Byrne was worse.
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