If you’re paying attention to the lone contested race for the General Assembly in Hall County, you might have noticed one major difference about the two Republicans running, besides the fact that one is from Gwinnett County and the other lives in Hall.
In fact, if you happened to be blind, the candidates themselves will point it out for you: They are nowhere near the same age.
Take Tuesday’s meeting of the South Hall Republican Club, where the two candidates were invited to speak.
“There’s one thing I need to get cleared up,” Timothy Barr, the candidate from Lawrenceville, said as soon as he introduced himself.
“There’s been a couple of folks that have asked me if I’m old enough to vote, let alone run for office. I need to clear that up. I will be 18 next month, so don’t worry about it.”
Barr is actually 31. He runs a construction company in Gwinnett.
But the age jokes kept coming when his Hall County opponent in the Republican primary for the new District 103 seat got his chance to address the crowd.
Ken Russell is an FBI retiree living in Sterling on the Lake subdivision.
“I promised at the beginning of this campaign that I was not going to make age an issue for political purposes and embarrass my opponent due to his youth and lack of experience,” Russell said.
The remark, Russell admits, is taken from the Ronald Reagan playbook. Reagan used the quip, referring to opponent Walter Mondale, in a 1984 presidential debate.
“I am 39 years old; next March I will be 38,” Russell said.
Russell’s real age: 77.
Russell made the promise not to bring up age, then he used his retired status as an argument for being the better candidate.
“I’m retired, my wife’s retired, I can devote full time to this position,” Russell said. “I’ve got a lot of experience, you’ll see from my biography, and I sincerely believe that I can handle the stresses and the demands of this job in the state House.”
Later in the night, the age joke got a few more miles.
As a woman’s voice advised underage children to call their parents to pick them up from the Spout Springs Library, Russell nudged Barr.
Editor's note: An earlier version of this story misidentified where Russell lives.