Watchers weigh effect of Helen Blocker-Adams' move

Saturday, May 17, 2014 4:20 PM
Last updated Sunday, May 18, 2014 1:40 AM
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Helen Blocker-Adams’ campaign suspension has thrown a wrench into Tuesday’s election for Augusta mayor, and longtime local political observers are split over whom the move benefits.

Under fire after last week’s revelations that she had been evading debt collectors for more than a decade and was served with more than 40 eviction or dispossessory notices over the past seven years, Blocker-Adams tearfully announced Thursday that she was suspending her mayoral campaign. However, she has not formally withdrawn from the race. Unless she does so Monday, Blocker-Adams’ votes will count toward a win or runoff. Before reports of her financial reports surfaced, 2,600 advance ballots had been cast.

Longtime Augusta elections observer Dave Barbee said the news was “the type of thing that turns voters off” but that if anyone stands to benefit, it is state Sen. Hardie Davis.

“Hardie Davis will be the beneficiary of the Helen Blocker-Adams implosion,” said Barbee, a former 10th District Republican Party chairman.

Whether or not Blocker-Adams secures enough votes to head into a July runoff in the race, her political career is done, Barbee said.

“She gets the job, and those people come after her? That tarnishes the city,” he said.

Former Mayor Bob Young said he thought Blocker-Adams’ move could propel Davis to a win, possibly without a runoff if white voters – the bulk of Blocker-Adams’ support in a recent landline poll commissioned by The Augusta Chronicle – shift their support to Davis.

“My initial feeling is this helps Hardie and he may be positioned now to win without a runoff,” Young said. “Hardie and Helen were splitting the white votes. With the white votes falling more toward Hardie, I think it helps him.”

Should she reach a runoff, Blocker-Adams could attempt to “reactivate her campaign,” or concede and then withdraw, with bitterness sure to result.

“I don’t see her out picking up signs,” Young said.

Whoever wins the election will likely have to reach out to Blocker-Adams, who has been a well-known figure in Au­gusta business, media and political circles for years, he said.

“She’s still relevant to this community,” Young said.

Retired Georgia Regents University political science professor Ralph Walker predicted “that Helen will probably be in the runoff,” an ironic detail in Augusta elections.

“History in Richmond County has been the second-place finisher usually wins the runoff, but I don’t think that will happen this time,” Walker said.

While the typical resident probably isn’t paying much attention to the drama surrounding Tuesday’s race, Blocker-Adams’ role in the final result will no doubt create “the sore losers” so prevalent in Augusta politics, Walker said.

“Richmond County politics are so interesting,” he said.

Augusta resident James Taylor said the choice was quick and easy for him – the news reports led him to switch support from Blocker-Adams to Davis.

“We don’t need anybody who can’t handle their finances running the city,” Taylor said.

Commissioner Marion Wil­liams, who is heavily involved in several campaigns including that of mayoral candidate Alvin Mason, said behind-the-scenes efforts to expose Blocker-Adams’ financial issues might have backfired on Davis supporters, who expected Davis and Blocker-Adams to wind up in a runoff.

“They did it a little too quick,” Williams said. “If they’re helping anybody, they’re helping Mason … I think it’s going to be a runoff between Alvin and Hardie.”

Barbara Gordon, whose Metro Courier newspaper endorsed Mason for mayor, called for Blocker-Adams to stay in the race “to be fair to the people that supported her.” Gordon organized a rally Sunday to demand that the “unwarranted attacks must stop.”

Young said critics of the news reports about Blocker-Adams should remember “this was all a matter of public record.”

Commissioner Grady Smith, a Davis supporter, said Blocker-Adams “ought to be demanded to drop out” of the mayor’s race.

“How could I, as a commissioner, have any respect for her? I pay all my bills. I don’t owe anybody anything,” he said.

Smith’s opponent for the Super District 10 commission seat, Brandon Dial, said the entire situation “will further erode public confidence in government” as voters grow both disgusted and uncertain their votes will count.

Richmond County Board of Elections Executive Director Lynn Bailey estimated that turnout Tuesday would be between 20 and 30 percent of the city’s 100,000 registered voters.

Charles Cummings, the only mayoral candidate to respond to a request for comment, said Blocker-Adams’ troubles would have come out eventually.

“(She) brought it on herself, I think,” he said. Despite what’s in the media, “people know who you are and they know what you represent,” Cummings said.

Comments (9) Add comment
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Pops
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Pops 05/17/14 - 07:56 pm
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Cummings is a fine one

to run his mouth. What a joke.

Butterman
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Butterman 05/17/14 - 08:36 pm
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Trying to Predict
Unpublished

Augusta politics is like trying to predict an earthquake. I actually think the latter is easier to do. One thing is certain, what you expect to happen rarely does. Remember how Peebles was supposed to be a shoe-in for Sheriff? Marion Williams was scoffed at as a joke when he ran for the Super District 9 commission seat against well funded Harold Jones who had all the big endorsements. Williams wound up winning by a healthy margin. Polls in local races are notoriously unreliable.

SRD
441
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SRD 05/17/14 - 09:29 pm
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Was this all designed to block Alvin Mason?

Obviously someone in the Davis campaign or at the AC (who hardly mentions Mason, unless it's to "suggest" that whites would prefer Davis). Mason won his district with 65% of the vote in the last election. Nobody will convince me that these "so-called" polls showing him to have far less support that Davis or Blocker-Adams (especially among whites). Mason is the ONLY one of the three standing up against SPLOST and the reckless spending that the Commission has been engaged in for years! He's a military veteran and currently working at Ft. Gordon in "civil service." He understand the way the commission works and knows where the bodies are buried in a lot of these "deals" that he has fought to stop. Having served as Mayor Pro-tem Alvin has the experience and a fiscal conservative record on the Commission. Mason is the obvious choice for Mayor. Hardie, who uses the DNC and Obama logo on his campaign materials, commercials and website is sending a signal that he will continue to be the big spending liberal that he's been in the Georgia Senate. Want Augusta to look like Detroit of Chicago, vote for Davis. Want a fiscal conservative that can't be bought by the "special interest" (aka Cabal), then vote for Alvin Mason!

Riverman1
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Riverman1 05/18/14 - 04:02 am
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White Voters Out In Ice Storm

Davis has always been such a big front runner that those voting against him were so firm in their convictions that they will not go over to him. The question has always been whether there would be a run-off between Davis and HBA or Mason. HBA will get fewer votes, but is still running hard and will draw a good number. But my prediction has always been Davis wins with over 51%. Davis has a powerful machine with the black ministers in the county. Alvin Mason making Marion Williams such a big part of his campaign and HBA melting down has left white voters outside in the ice storm we had.

Darby
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Darby 05/18/14 - 10:06 am
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"Retired Georgia Regents University political

science professor Ralph Walker predicted “that Helen will probably be in the runoff,” an ironic detail in Augusta elections."

.
I'm sitting here trying to remember a time when Walker was right in one of his "predictions". Other than jumping on the bandwagon when the result was obvious to everyone.... I can't think of any.

Oh well, at least he said, "probably".

Butterman
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Butterman 05/18/14 - 10:45 am
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The real news
Unpublished

here is to learn that Ralph Walker is still around. He must be close to the century mark by now if he hasn't already passed it.

triscuit
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triscuit 05/18/14 - 06:13 pm
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Grady Smith is a boor. He's

Grady Smith is a boor. He's backing Davis and like all of them, were scared to death of Helen winning. May still be. I'd bet he or a relative of his was in on the "cash" party for HBA after her 2005 endorsement of Deke. I hope Brandon Dial cleans his clock.

Little Lamb
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Little Lamb 05/18/14 - 08:55 pm
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Government Coercion

From the story:

Commissioner Grady Smith, a Davis supporter, said Blocker-Adams “ought to be demanded to drop out” of the mayor’s race.

Here we see corrupt commissioner Grady Smith asking for some governmental agency to demand Blocker-Adams to withdraw from the race. This shows Smith's coercive mindset. He is a big government bully. It is time to remove him from office. But you note that I am asking. I am not demanding.

Little Lamb
46355
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Little Lamb 05/18/14 - 08:57 pm
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ICE :-)

:-)

Alvin Mason making Marion Williams such a big part of his campaign and HBA melting down has left white voters outside in the ice storm we had.

That's a good one, RM. Well, I'm one white person who proudly voted for Alvin Mason in early voting.

Willow Bailey
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Willow Bailey 05/20/14 - 09:01 am
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Kudos on your 8:55 comment

Kudos on your 8:55 comment LL.

Willow Bailey
20595
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Willow Bailey 05/20/14 - 09:06 am
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I think HBA is no longer

I think HBA is no longer suspended, but filed the necessary documents to withdraw and the focus should move off of her.

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