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Oglesby: Running down the July primary races
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Now we know whose running for what in county, congressional district, state and nation. What’s left is to sort it all out.

Let’s start in the county. Incumbent Hall County Board of Commissioners Chairman Tom Oliver seeks re-election and is opposed by former Commissioner Steve Gailey who wants a promotion to chairman. He brings commission experience to the table.

In a strange twist, Gailey first decided not to seek re-election and publicly endorsed Dick Mecum. At the last minute he qualified.

Both are opposed by Mecum, a former three-term sheriff and a now-retired U.S. marshal who had to undergo an extensive background check, coming out as a clean as a whistle. He brings to the table a degree in business administration with an emphasis on finance. Right now, the question is whether there will be a runoff, and if so, who will be in it against Mecum.

I’ll have no idea how the race between incumbent Billy Powell and Eugene Moon will turn out until I learn more about Moon, whom I don’t know.

Incumbent Ashley Bell is challenged by Jeff Stowe for the District 4 seat This one could be tight. Let’s wait on the debates.

With five candidates for sheriff to replace retiring three-term sheriff Steve Cronic — who easily could have coasted to re-election but chose to retire — a runoff is certain. The question is which two will be it. The victory margin for the second place spot will be razor thin.

Four candidates will be trying to replace the retiring longtime Hall County probate judge, Patti Cornett. The question here is if there will be a runoff and which of the other three will go against Susan Brown, the one with the most experience in the varied duties for which the probate judge is responsible.

Another four want to replace longtime incumbent tax commissioner Keith Echols, who is not seeking re-election. The guess here is Brad Dunagan, Gov. Nathan Deal’s brother-in-law, and accountant and tax preparer Charles Lewis will be in the runoff.

Paul Wayne Godfrey and Craig Harrington seek Post 3 on the Hall County Board of Education.

Three Republicans, Doug Collins, Martha Zoller and Roger Fitzpatrick, and Democrat Jody Cooley are on the ballot for the newly created 9th District U.S. House seat. Again, the question is will a runoff be necessary?

This is perhaps the most intriguing of the races. I don’t know anything about Fitzpatrick. Zoller has no public office experience and this is her first candidacy for public office. She got a lot of free publicity when she stayed on her radio talk show until just before qualifying. The station management refused to give Collins his requested equal time.

She’s a guaranteed hard worker at whatever she does. She has some strong tea party support and doesn’t trail Collins far in reported fundraising so far.

Collins, a state representative, was Deal’s floor leader. His responsibility in that role was to introduce and guide the passage of the governor’s requested legislation through the house, working with his Senate counterpart to make the necessary compromises to get it passed in both houses. This gave him real-world experience in how Congress actually operates, something that can be learned only through actual experience.

He, too, has some tea party support. Their debates ought to be interesting.

Cooley will face the GOP winner. At Kiwanis last week, I told him he had no chance of winning in this GOP stronghold, but I was genuinely glad he’s running. It can help keep Republicans from becoming complacent, and competition of ideas is needed in a democracy. He said he knew that, but he was going to run to win.

All other incumbents are unopposed

Before next we chat, I’ll have celebrated our 59th wedding anniversary June 12 and my 80th birthday June 14.

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, in its 53rd year, appears biweekly on Tuesdays and at gainesvilletimes.com/viewpoint.

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