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Oglesby: Hometown support swings runoff
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Some random observations on the primary runoff:

Republicans nominated their best candidate to defeat Democrat Roy Barnes in November's general election. Polls consistently showed that Hall County's Nathan Deal would defeat him by the widest margin of any of the GOP candidates.

It was, as expected, a squeaker. The Roswell (North Fulton) Beacon, in Karen Handel's community, never in its 30-year history had made a political endorsement. It wrote that they knew too much about her and felt a journalistic responsibility to expose it. Handel was expecting North Fulton where she lives to provide her victory margin, but I think that very long, blistering expose trimmed her Fulton vote just enough.

Hall County's voters did their share, plus. Their turnout doubled predictions. The Times' unexpected endorsement undoubtedly played a big role. I still condemn the more than 70 percent of Hall's registered voters content to let others make their choices for them. For shame!

Craig Lutz's upset of Hall County Commissioner Bobby Banks was a clear rejection of the county commission's fiascos in the water reservoir and Clermont library disputes. If the commission majority continues, voters will make more changes in two years.

Let's hope Tom Graves, our new U.S. congressman, gets his personal problems in order.

Finally, I wonder whether the November general election will approach 1980 when "the doves" fell like they were over a baited field. Things turned around. I would love to see the GOP retake control of at least one house of Congress, the House the first choice, and reduce the Democrats' Senate veto-proof majority.

On to the general election: My biggest hope is the gubernatorial race won't turn into a mudslinging contest.

Both men are honorable. Neither are crooks. Both are politically talented. Their differences are philosophical and in approach.

"King Roy" Barnes, an effective legislator, got that nickname in his term as governor by barreling over opposition for what HE wanted. Costly examples included the state flag issue, what he did to the teachers and the outrageous reapportionment federal courts had to partially correct.

Deal, far more conservative, is more of a consensus builder. He got that as president pro-tem of the state Senate and chairman of the U.S. House subcommittee handling health care issues. Don't look for him to go negative unless Barnes or his surrogates starts defaming his character and integrity, as Handel did in the primaries.

Barnes' first general election ad, aired before polls closed, started out with stark negativism then said the issues weren't party but competence and experience. As a previous governor he didn't need "on-the-job training."

The winner won't have a few but many major issues: budget, jobs, education, transportation infrastructure, immigration, health care and the long-running tri-state water wars.

Barnes must win his liberal base of traditional Democrats, the usual 90 percent of the black vote, plus Hispanic and gay voters. Despite his North Georgia home, he must carry most of South Georgia.

Deal will need a united GOP statewide, the conservatives throughout the state, especially in North Georgia. He also needs to crack the armor of the aforementioned Barnes' strongholds.

Local observations: Main county offices, if at all possible, ought to be in the county seat. I like the city's decision to keep "back door" garbage pickup, even at the cost of extra fees. Too many elderly retirees can't get the cans to the street, particularly where steep drives are involved. Once-weekly pickups (as is the recycle pickups) would suit me, but possibly not larger families.

Mark your calendars now. The annual Kiwanis Pancake Breakfast is Saturday, Sept. 25 at the Civic Center. Tickets are available from all Kiwanis members. More details later.

Ted Oglesby is retired associate and opinion editor of The Times. You can contact him at P.O. Box 663, Gainesville, GA 30503. His column appears biweekly on Tuesdays and on

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