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Oglesby: Expect a close special election
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This is going to turn out to be a most interesting special election to fill the unexpired term of the 9th District congressional seat Nathan Deal vacated to focus on his run for governor.

First, I don't know why Gov. Sonny Perdue scheduled it for May 11 when qualifying for the special election for the full new term begins shortly after. One candidate could win the unexpired term and another the full term, costing the full-term winner valuable months of seniority in a year seeing massive changes in the House. Taxpayer money could have been saved, lessening the amount of budget cuts needed. That is, unless it was for the advantage of someone he's supporting for some race.

With eight candidates, a runoff is almost certain. Who will be the top two? They'll probably come from the trio of Lee Hawkins, Tom Graves and Bill Stephens. This could be a real squeaker.

Some, not all, Republican strategists and leaders finally are beginning to show concern about something I've been writing about often: the nature and tone of opposition to the health care bills and way they were passed. Let's summarize the parts they're finally picking up on.

Biggest concern is the harsh tone of opposition. Americans as a whole wanted health care reform. They did not want governmental control and spiraling costs. Obama dropped the ball with his refusal to accept the GOP offer to start over with a "blank sheet of paper" drawing a bill reform by reform, starting with issues both sides agreed upon. That history can't be recalled, but it is fair for the GOP to use it against Democratic candidates who buckled under party pressure.

You can't start from where you'd rather be but from where you actually are. Where are we? People on both sides and a huge block of independents are in a bare-knuckled rhetorical fight. Liberals say it didn't go far enough. Conservatives say it amounts to blatant socialism and bankruptcy.

Though most fully agreed some provisions were badly needed, the GOP mantra is "give us control of Congress and we'll repeal it." The bill's "goodies" begin first. Costs come after the elections. People receiving them won't want them repealed. Democrats already are effectively defining Republicans as the "party of no." As that definition and the inexcusable manners of many opponents sink in, so do realistic chances of retaking Congress. You don't let the opposition define you.

GOP conservative pragmatists and moderates do oppose the bill as written, but that doesn't necessarily mean they oppose some badly needed reforms in it. The GOP collective campaign promise ought to be "Give us control and we will fix what's wrong, keeping the needed parts." In other words, it's time for another "Contract with America."

As I wrote before the Masters, because of Tiger Woods' lack of any competitive rounds ordinarily I would say he couldn't win. However, because of the course and his reputation in tough situations, I wouldn't have bet against him. He started off very well the first two rounds, entering the weekend two strokes off the lead in a tie for 10th.

The third round didn't see the leaders move up, giving him the opening he needed to perhaps go into Sunday in the lead. He couldn't get anything sustained going either day but still wound up in a tie for fourth.

Play a few tournaments and he'll again be as tough as the old Tiger, maybe tougher and a better person to boot.

Ted Oglesby is retired associate and opinion page editor of The Times. You can reach him at P.O. Box 663, Gainesville, GA 30503. His column appears every other Tuesday and on