Like Mark Twain’s premature obituary, reports of Augusta attorney Freddie Sanders’ political death were greatly exaggerated.
Last week, I told you he was not going to run for sheriff of Richmond County. I should have known better, despite the fact that impeccable sources said he wasn’t going to run. Also, Sanders called a week ago out of the blue to make sure I understood he’d never said he’d run, only that his “intentions” were to run. He also said he was not committed to run and was still listening and talking to people.
So I went out on a limb, and Monday he sawed it off.
I asked him how he came from being “not committed” Friday to being committed Monday, and he said, “I guess I thought about it and made the decision I would like to be the sheriff. I love law enforcement and sincerely believe I’ll be a good sheriff. I know the sheriff’s department inside out.”
I didn’t ask whether he was running to establish himself as a bonafide Republican to enhance his chances of being appointed to a Superior Court judgeship – as some have speculated – because I knew he’d say no.
Last week, I also wrote – and still believe – that Sanders would draw votes from Republicans who otherwise would cross over and vote in the Democratic primary in order to vote in the sheriff’s race for one of the two white candidates – Scott Peebles or Robbie Silas. That would lessen their chances of winning or getting into a runoff with Lt. Richard Roundtree or Lt. John Ivey. Should there be a runoff in the Democratic primary, Republican primary voters could not vote in it.
In addition, some Democratic voters would cross over and vote for Sanders if he were to have opposition in the Republican primary, which could also lessen Peebles’ and Silas’ chances while enhancing Roundtree’s. Those voters could not vote in a Democratic runoff.
Anyway, I wrote that Sanders’ chances of winning were Slim and None, and Slim had left town, but Sanders has almost convinced me he can bring Slim back to town. However, to win in the general election with a 75 percent turnout, he’d have to get every single one of the estimated 29,000 Republican votes and 9,001 of the estimated 48,000 Democratic votes.
POTENTIALITY: On another note, potential sheriff Sanders represented potential mayor Alvin Mason when Mason pleaded not guilty of domestic assault in Richmond County State Court.
Sanders said Mason was intervening in a “family potential disagreement” between Mason’s wife and adult daughter when his wife, Velma, got shoved up against a wall and got a little cut on her neck.
The episode was potentially damaging to Mason’s political career. Sanders played it down as being a “potential” disagreement. But doesn’t it make sense that if Mason had to get in between the two women to keep them from coming to blows, the disagreement had already gone beyond “potential”?
NOTHING TO SNEEZE AT: Unlike the pollen in Augusta, commission and school board district voting days and lines are still up in the air because the politicians failed to approve a plan that reflects population changes since the 2000 census. At least we do know they’ve dropped this in the lap of a federal judge somewhere.
Legislation that shifts Augusta Commission elections from November to July must be pre-cleared by the U.S. Justice Department by the opening of qualifying May 23. If it is not, the law will not take effect until next year, and this year’s elections will be in November.
DON’T IT ALWAYS SEEM TO GO … The Legislature did approve transferring the Golf and Gardens property to Georgia Health Sciences University and the old public library at Ninth and Greene streets to the city. City Administrator Fred Russell said the library will be torn down to make way for a parking lot.
THEY SAID HE’LL BE SORELY MISSED: The local delegation sponsored a resolution commending Sheriff Ronnie Strength on the occasion of his retirement. He was lauded in the House last week for his leadership and deep personal commitment to the welfare of residents, his remarkable diplomacy, his keen sense of vision, and his unquestionable integrity to justice and law enforcement during his 35 years of “superlative service.”
PRAISE ON TOP OF PRAISE: The Richmond County Democratic Party is organizing a “celebration” for Strength on April 20 at the Augusta Marriott at the Convention Center. A non-partisan buffet dinner and recognitions are planned. Tickets cost $50, and you can make a reservation by calling (706) 722-8111.
QUITE A BAND OF MERRY MEN: Mayor Deke Copenhaver will be a panelist on the Veterans Advisory Board of Robin Hood aboard the Intrepid Museum in New York City in May. Robin Hood, co-chaired by former Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman and U.S. Navy Adm. Mike Mullen and Steve Cohen, the founder of S.A.C. Capital Advisors LP, invests millions to support direct service programs for veterans and their families.
“Your efforts to help veterans in Augusta are exemplary, and mayors and other government, private sector and nonprofit practitioners from across the country would benefit significantly by hearing from you firsthand,” Mullen wrote in the invitation.
The conference will focus on issues facing veterans. Panelists include Mullen; Lloyd Blankfein, Goldman Sachs’ chairman and CEO; Jes Staley, CEO of JP Morgan Investment Bank at JPMorgan Chase & Co.; journalist and author Tom Brokaw; Wes Moore, an author, businessman and U.S. Army veteran; The Daily Show host Jon Stewart; retired Gens. Pete Chiarelli and Stan McChrystal and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Augusta’s Boy King, the first mayor in America to finish all three legs of an ESi Ironman 70.3 Augusta twice, says he’s not focusing on petty politics.
“I’m focused on working together with people who can make a huge difference in our city, such as our new community partners at Starbucks, as well as the panelists I’ll be serving with in New York,” he said. “I want Augusta to become a model city, and I have access to people who can help make it happen.”
I’LL DRINK TO THAT: After the Augusta Commission approved an amendment to the county code to allow Sunday sales of beer, wine and liquor beginning today, the mayor said he wasn’t going to comment about Sunday sales going into effect on April Fool’s Day.
“But,” he added, “it’s something to consider.