Originally created 09/09/04

Still tough to beat



In one sense, U.S. Rep. Charlie Norwood, R-Ga., is unlucky. In two senses, though, he's lucky indeed.

It's unfortunate that he suffers from a serious lung disease - idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis - that requires a lung transplant. As W. Bruce Davis, professor of and director of pulmonary and critical care medicine at the Medical College of Georgia, said, "This is a very serious disease. (It) tends to progress no matter what we do. And it's a common cause for lung transplants."

That's where the 63-year-old Norwood is lucky. He has been moved to the top of the transplant list, and could be operated on at any time. His prognosis is good.

Meanwhile, he must stay within two hours of the northern Virginia hospital where the transplant will be done. After that, it will take a few months of recuperation.

This means he won't be coming home to the Augusta area to campaign for re-election to his Ninth Congressional District seat. If the district weren't so heavily Republican, the former Columbia County dentist could be in a lot of re-election trouble as a result of his illness. In actuality, this is another lucky break for him.

As redistricting has taught us, most congressional districts are safe for incumbents. but there aren't many incumbents who are so safe, they can get seriously ill, not campaign and still expect to win.

In another district, Norwood's Democratic foe, Augusta State University's College of Business professor Bob Ellis, could expect to make giant inroads against an ailing and inactive incumbent, but Norwood is simply too popular and beloved in the district for voters to desert him.

Instead, they are praying for his quick and complete recovery - as do we all. Indeed, his illness might actually add to his majority. And it's not simply because he comes from a GOP district - it has a lot more to do with the excellent job Norwood has done representing his constituents in matters small and great over the past 10 years.