Originally created 05/17/02

McIntyre's task



The contest for mayor between incumbent Bob Young and former state Rep. Robin Williams was interesting enough, but with former mayor Ed McIntyre sending up a test balloon, things could get very interesting.

Williams has the quiet support of Sen. Charles Walker, D-Augusta. A well-known name in Augusta politics, Williams presented a formidable challenge to Young, who is ending his first term in office as a man trying to get credit for doing something in a political environment that hasn't allowed him much quarter.

Walker would have been able to pull a lot of black voters to Williams, but McIntyre is the wild card. If he gets in the race, Williams' challenge to Young is in peril, as Walker's support could shrivel up like a squash vine in a drought.

The reality is, Walker may simply not be able to support a white candidate if there's a credible black one. Surveys show that the vast majority of Augustans will vote for a candidate of their own race, if they're given the choice. Blacks would be likely to withdraw their support from Williams and give it to McIntyre - and Walker needs to get out the black vote, if for no other reason than to get his son, Charles Walker Jr., elected to Congress.

As he ponders his political future, McIntyre's task will be to gauge if Augustans will forgive and forget the bribery and extortion conviction that sent him from the mayor's office to the penitentiary in 1984.

His other task will be to keep black contenders from joining the fray and diluting his message of unity and progress.

To win, a candidate needs 45 percent of the votes cast. Lacking that, the two lead contenders get pushed into a runoff. Review recent history: During the last runoff between McIntyre and Young, Young beat McIntyre by 5,000 votes, spending $124,000 to McIntyre's $52,000 to do it. If McIntyre could get more support from the business community, his candidacy might get traction.

The point is, don't count Ed McIntyre out. Voters may say that 20 years is long enough for political exile and that this man who fell from grace should be given another chance.