After Tuesday’s election in which Richmond County Democrat sheriff candidate Richard Roundtree trounced his Republican rival, Freddie Sanders, Sanders said his phone stopped ringing and every call he made to friends went to voicemail.
“And these are my friends,” he said with a laugh. “One of them went home and tore my signs off his fence and went inside and turned his dog loose in the yard, so if I came by I wouldn’t come in.”
“Even that no-good Ronnie Strength left a message,” he said.
Sanders said before he even he heard Strength’s message, he thought, “This ain’t good.”
“Ronnie said, ‘Congratulations, Richard. I knew we could beat that no-good… Uh oh,’ before he hung up.”
Strength said he’s called Sanders every day since the election to “give him hell” because he told him not to run, that he couldn’t win, even if he got every white vote in the county.
But Sanders has no regrets.
“I’m in business,” he said. “I have a job. And my claim to fame is that I’m still a part of that historic moment.”
“I’m the first white sheriff’s candidate that got beat by the first black sheriff in Richmond County,” he said.
Sanders said that with Roundtree in office and Marion Williams back on the Augusta Commission, my job writing this column will be like “hunting over a baited field.”
2 MINUTES X 19,000 = 633 HOURS AND 20 MINUTES: Williams was always making news during his previous two terms on the commission and promises to do the same in the future, first by challenging Mayor Deke Copenhaver’s right to limit the time commissioners may speak on a subject to two, two-minute speeches.
“You can’t limit an elected official from speaking because they’re the voice of the people,” Williams said. “I was elected by 19,000 people. How can you speak for 19,000 people in two minutes? People want a voice to speak for them. Too many mistakes have been made, and nobody has addressed them.”
But that doesn’t mean he gets two minutes for each of the 19,000 people. If he did, the Boy King’s timer would have cobwebs on it before Williams finished talking.
I’m sure the mayor is looking forward to Williams’ return. It’s definitely going to be interesting to see how it all turns out since Williams prevailed in other situations, such as when citizen activist and CSRA Help founder Woody Merry sued in 2006, challenging the legality of the commissioners’ use of abstentions to prevent majority votes on controversial issues. A judge said the mayor could cast votes in such situations, but the Georgia Supreme Court reversed that ruling.
ONE BRADFORD CHOPS ANOTHER: Merry, whose middle name is “Bradford,” has since turned his attention to running criminals out of town and just last week chopped down a Bradford pear tree in Harrisburg to send a message to drug dealers who used it as a meeting spot.
He also spray painted “GOT COPS,” the citizen crime fighters’ catchy acronym, which stands for Get Out of Town; Citizens on Patrol, in black over graffiti on a nearby wall.
I’ve heard of painting the town red….
IT AIN’T OVER ’TIL IT’S OVER, EXCEPT FOR ELECTIONS: Republican Dave Barbee, who manned the party’s campaign headquarters in Augusta, summed up Tuesday’s election this way: “We got smoked. Friday, before the election with absentee and early voting, the election in Richmond County was over. O.V.E.R. We were so far down, if we’d had a train running to the polls we still would have lost.”
For example, at the end of the day Friday, Mitt Romney had a little more than 10,000 votes in the county to 26,000 for President Obama. Twelfth Congressional Republican candidate Lee Anderson had 8,963 votes in Richmond County to Democrat John Barrow’s 27,048.
Roundtree had 24,994 votes by Friday – more than he got on Election Day – to Sanders’ 11,563.
The Democrat candidate for district attorney, Evita Paschall, had 23,278 in Richmond County to Republican incumbent Ashley Wright’s 12,308. The big turnout for Wright in Columbia County saved her job. And so it went.
In the District 23 state Senate race, perennial Democrat candidate Robert Ingham spent zero dollars and energy campaigning and ended up with 40 percent of the vote in losing to incumbent Republican Jesse Stone.
SENATOR BARROW?: Barrow’s big win Tuesday has some folks speculating he’ll run for the U.S. Senate against Republican incumbent Saxby Chambliss in 2014.
Chambliss is perceived to be weak because of his stance on immigration and meetings with Senate Democrats last year on deficit-reduction plans that critics said meant tax increases. He was booed at the state Republican convention five years ago because of his position on immigration, which many thought wasn’t conservative enough.
And Barrow has proved he can beat Republicans. He’s done it five times, although he had to move twice after the Republicans drew him out of the district. He lived in Athens in 2004 when he beat Republican incumbent Max Burns. In 2006, after redistricting, he moved to Savannah and beat Burns again. In 2008, he beat Republican John Stone. In 2010, he beat Republican Ray McKinney. When the Republicans drew him out of the district again this year, he moved to Augusta and beat Anderson.
“We’ve moved him out of the district two times.” Barbee said. “He’s moved two times. We’ve done everything but shoot the son of a gun.”
If Barrow ran for the Senate and won, he wouldn’t have to run again for six years, and he’d have a say in the appointment of federal judges in Georgia.
REST IN PEACE, SHERIFF: The death of former Sheriff Charles B. Webster Saturday marked the end of an era. He was the last of the once-powerful, old-line south Augusta politicians. Before he retired at the end of 2000, after 17 years in office, I interviewed him. He drove around south Richmond County, visiting places and telling stories about what happened at each one and how things used to be. He said that he never wanted the spotlight and never planned to run for sheriff until the Southside Mafia talked him into it and that he was tired of law enforcement.
“It’s not my cup of tea,” he said.
Helping others get elected was.
“I’ve done fairly well for myself,” he said. “I can recall when I was 10 years old, and a man offered me $2 a day to plow, and I plowed a mule. He says, `Charles, you’re good for your age.’ He said, `I’ll pay you top wages.’ And I plowed two days and made that $4.
“I got more money in my pocket right now than we made on that farm that whole year. And we had plenty to eat. Don’t get me wrong. We were just like everybody else. And it wasn’t that bad.”
Being born in hard times makes a fellow appreciate more, he said.
“You appreciate your friends and your fellow man a little bit more,” he said. “You have a little bit more compassion. I think sometimes when people are born with a silver spoon, you don’t see that.”
He’d grown a little sad after so much reminiscing.
“Richmond County has been good to Charlie Webster, and I thank them,” he said, tearing up. “I do. I’ve been a lucky man.”
TODAY IS VETERANS DAY: Kiss a veteran and thank them for the sacrifices they made to keep us free and our country safe. I already kissed mine.