Dick Yarbrough: July runoff elections not the end but just the beginning

Published 5:07 pm Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Don’t look now but it is almost time to go back to the polls in Georgia. Either Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle or Secretary of State Brian Kemp will be selected by Republican voters in the runoff on Tuesday, July 24, to be their gubernatorial candidate in the November general election.
Cagle, as you know, has had a severe case of blabbermouth and potty mouth. Among things he told Clay Tippins, a former rival in the Republican primary who taped a conversation without Cagle’s knowledge, is that the primary is about who can be the craziest. On that point, I totally agree. Casey Cagle at times has come across as slightly unhinged. I would prefer my governors to be a bit more circumspect.
Speaking of crazy, Brian Kemp with a shotgun in his lap keeps reminding a jumpy young man who evidently wants to date one of his daughters that he just might use it if the boy doesn’t behave. My daughter would have gone bonker-crazy if I had done that, shotgun or no shotgun. I get sweaty palms just thinking about it.
And I don’t know about Stacey Abrams, the Democratic gubernatorial candidate, either. The last I heard, she was at the Stone Mountain Memorial trying to scrub off Robert E. Lee’s beard with a Brillo Pad. That’s pretty crazy, I think.
In the runoff for lieutenant governor, I’m not sure what Republican Geoff Duncan’s thinking was in a series of last-minute attacks on rival candidate David Shafer. Shafer almost won the nomination without a runoff. (He got 49 percent of the vote to Duncan’s 27 percent.) I doubt seriously the attack ads will change the runoff results much and will likely serve as ready-made fodder for the Democratic candidate, Sarah Riggs Amico, in the general election. Sometimes, Republicans have a hard time figuring out who the enemy is.
Until he decided he needed to respond to Duncan’s attacks, Shafer had run a relatively positive campaign. At least The Woman Who Shares My Name thinks so and you must remember, she doesn’t like anything about politics, except Johnny Isakson.
The “down ballot” races don’t garner the attention of the governor and lieutenant governor, but they are equally important to both parties. They include races for Public Service Commission, secretary of state, state school superintendent and insurance commissioner, among others — all of which will have Democratic challengers this fall.
One could argue that these races can impact Georgians as much or more than the more high-profile ones at the top of the ballot. Insurance commissioners set the rates for insurance companies doing business in the state. The Public Service Commission sets utility rates (Does the name Plant Vogtle ring a bell?) The state school superintendent, pretty much emasculated during Gov. Nathan Deal’s term in office, still can be influential in public education matters.
The secretary of state regulates more state boards than a yard dog has fleas. In addition, it is responsible for voter registration and will play a key role in the redistricting process set for 2020. While state Rep. Brad Raffensperger and Alpharetta Mayor David Belle Isle duke it out for the Republican nomination, awaiting the winner will be Democrat John Barrow
Barrow is perhaps the most fascinating character in the race. He holds the dubious distinction of being the last white Democrat from the Deep South to serve in Congress. Barrow had five terms in the U.S. House even while districts were redrawn around him, requiring him to move from Athens to Savannah to Augusta before he was finally defeated in 2014. I’m not sure the looney leftists in his own party appreciate John Barrow but I suspect Republicans have a healthy respect for him.
Don’t forget that Tuesday, the 24th, isn’t the end. It is just the beginning. We have a general election ahead of us in November and get to do this all over again. Despite the robocalls at dinner, the predictable attack ads and general hyperbole, we should consider it a privilege that we can have a say in who governs us. Many parts of the world don’t have that opportunity.
Winston Churchill said democracy is the worst form of government except all others that have been tried. It can be even worse if we choose not to participate and do not exercise our right to vote. It is not pandering or grandstanding politicians that are the biggest threat to our democracy. It is our own apathy. Please vote next Tuesday.

You can reach Dick Yarbrough at
dick@dickyarbrough.com; at P.O. Box 725373, Atlanta, Georgia, 31139 or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/dickyarb.