THE COMEBACK OF THE YEAR AWARD: To former Gov. Roy Barnes, who was booted from office in the biggest upset in Georgia history in 2002, seemingly having been thoroughly repudiated by voters. But guess what? Roy is back and in a big way. He's poised to sweep the Democratic gubernatorial primary on Tuesday, possibly even without a runoff. Should he go on to recapture the Governor's Mansion, it will be a political rebirth of truly epic proportions.
THE "RONALD REAGAN WHO?" AWARD: To Republican gubernatorial candidates John Oxendine, Karen Handel and Nathan Deal, who have forgotten the late president's famous "11th Commandment" - "Thou shalt not speak ill of one's fellow Republicans." The final days and weeks of the GOP contest for governor have been a near-continuous round of mud-slinging at each other. And here's a prediction: With a runoff likely in this crowded contest, the ugliness likely is only going to get worse before it's over.
THE KOOKIEST IDEA AWARD: To Cobb school board candidate Bill Borden's proposal for the board to help close its budget deficit by selling DVDs to home-schoolers and other school systems of its best teachers teaching in the classroom, and their lesson plans. First of all, any school superintendent who bought such DVDs would risk insulting his own teachers by inferring that they are inferior to Cobb's. Second, most teachers would not be keen about seeing their lesson plans - their intellectual property - sold off by their boss. Third, it's no secret that Georgia's public schools are among the very worst in the country. In light of that, who would buy what we had to offer? Probably not even Alabama or South Carolina.
THE MOST EVASIVE INTERVIEW AWARD: To Borden. The MDJ ran a lengthy excerpt of the transcript of its editorial board meeting with the candidate this week, in which he proved unwilling to give clear answers to repeated questions about his questionable business dealings and unable to remember key details about them. Remarked one politico after reading the story, "That's the most evasive interview I've ever read with somebody who wasn't named 'Bill Clinton.'"
THE "WHAT WAS HE THINKING" AWARD: To Northeast Cobb Commissioner candidate Earl Stine, after it was learned late this week that he pleaded guilty to a road-rage incident in Atlanta several years ago during which he held up a pistol so that the other driver could see it. Stine gets two copies of the trophy: One for his participation in the incident, and one for thinking that he could run a successful political campaign with such a skeleton in his closet.
BEST QUOTE AWARD: To state Senate candidate Lindsey Tippins of west Cobb, whose opponent, incumbent Sen. John Wiles, is awash in contributions from virtually every lobbying group and trade association at the state Capitol, yet who bragged about the lobbying "reform" bill that he helped pass this past session.
Retorted Tippins, "As far as I am concerned, (lobbyists) can all be banned. I have a job, so I don't need someone else to buy my lunch or give me presents."
SOME POLITICIANS THINK that getting endorsed by a nationally known politician or organization is almost tantamount to victory. And if that were truly the case, Sen. Wiles (R-Kennesaw) would be a shoo-in in Tuesday's GOP Primary.
Recent days have seen Wiles garner the endorsements of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), the National Rifle Association and the Right to Life, to name just a few. If endorsements are decisive, Wiles should win in a landslide.
We'll know one way or the other come Tuesday night.
But some of those endorsements have left supporters of Wiles' challenger, longtime former Cobb school board member and Chairman Tippins, shaking their heads. Especially that of the NRA. Tippins is a country boy through-and-through, a longtime Second Amendment supporter who loves hunting and fishing and is very supportive of gun rights.
"I bought my first shotgun at age 10 from the old Sears on Roswell Street with money I made from selling tomatoes," he recalled this week. "If there's anybody who likes the outdoors more than I do, I'd like to meet him."
(It's not known whether NRA favorite Wiles owns a gun, but sharp-eyed observers may have noticed that in his TV ads he's posed in front of a cozy fireplace with a Civil War cavalry saber leaning in the corner.)
As for the Right to Life endorsement, Tippins is not a member but is a deep-pocketed supporter of three groups that share similar goals.
Some politicos suggested that big-time politicians like Gingrich and Chambliss were "meddling" by making endorsements in local-level races, but that's not all that unusual.
Tippins told Around Town on Thursday that, "I'd never turn down an endorsement, but I'll bet (Sheriffs) Bill Hutson and Neil Warren (who have both endorsed him) have shaken the hands of more Cobb County voters than Newt or Saxby ever have."
Other politicos note that as long as a politician votes consistently to support a lobbying group, it will endorse him for re-election, regardless of who runs against him.
As late Marietta Mayor Joe Mack Wilson used to say, "In politics, you never give up a friend in hopes of making another friend."
COBB POLICE are investigating another teen drinking party at the Marietta Country Club. This one came to light in the pre-dawn hours of June 28 after an officer patrolling at the club pulled over a car for a broken tail light. It contained a 16-year-old and two 15-year-olds, two of whom, including the driver, were charged with alcohol violations. The youths said they were on their way to nearby party. Instead, they were released to their parents, who lived nearby and arrived at the scene.
While waiting, the officer flagged down a second vehicle that zoomed by. Its driver was a 17-year-old who said she had just left the party in question at Marietta Country Club Drive. When officers arrived, they saw several people run from the rear of the house. Officers were then positioned at the front and back and eventually found an open door on the top rear deck.
Party-goers in the house told the officers that those who had dashed out of the house were those who lived there, and they eventually returned to the house.
All told, six people ages 17 or 18 at the house were charged with underage possession of alcohol. The parents were called to come pick up the 17-year-olds and the homeowners, who were in Tennessee, were called by police and informed of the party.
“They seemed receptive and thanked us for doing our job,” states the police report.
Another teen drinking party at the country club during the Christmas holiday season last year sparked a chain of events that ultimately led to Tippins’ decision to challenge Wiles. After police busted the earlier party, which took place in the home of part-time magistrate Judge Diane Busch, Wiles, who lives at the club, arrived to pick up his son.
While there, Wiles told officers that one of the teens at the party stood to lose his college baseball scholarship if he were arrested, according to the police report, which Wiles later denied having said.
The uproar over the party, its handling and Wiles’ alleged comment fueled a perception that he might be politically vulnerable, which no doubt played a role in Tippins’ decision to challenge him.
ALTHOUGH HAMILTON BECK will appear on Tuesday’s GOP primary ballot for the District 42 state House seat held by Don Parsons, he is no longer a candidate due to an issue with his voter registration.
When he qualified in late April to seek office, the 24-year-old Kennesaw State University graduate said he had not yet registered to vote in Cobb, to which he moved from Roswell nearly two years ago. Parsons challenged Beck’s candidacy with the Secretary of State shortly after qualifying week.
An administrative law judge ruled that Beck was ineligible to run since a candidate must be registered to vote in his or her district in order to seek a seat in that post, Parsons said.