The 2012 primary stayed interesting until the end
Well, it’s over. The primary, at least, is finally over.
But what a ride, huh? After a hardnosed, hard-fought general primary in which both races seemed at times to be ready to spin off into the absurd, the news cycle changed, people blinked and, all of a sudden, the runoff was here.
And that’s when the real sweating began.
Thanks to the colossal distraction surrounding the naming of the university made from the merger of ASU and GHSU, the Augusta area got a breather from the nonstop election coverage that had seen them through the general election.
And look what happened.
After earning the most votes in the general primary — adding even a portion of Robbie Silas’ votes should have put him comfortably over the top — Scott Peebles ended the night of the runoff 447 votes behind Richard Roundtree, stunning a city that seemed to be treating a Peebles victory as an inevitability.
The sense of urgency — some would say fear — that existed in a large part of the white community during the general primary all but disappeared once the runoff began, replaced instead by a general feeling of confidence.
And that confidence was not entirely unfounded. The drama of the primary was never Peebles versus Rroundtree, it was Peebles versus Silas versus Roundtree. With Silas in the race, getting to the runoff was supposed to be the hard part. The runoff itself, while no walk in the park, was supposed to be manageable.
So where did it go wrong for Peebles?
“Lazy white voters” is how one political operative described it, and while that isn’t entirely accurate, considering the diverse group of supporters claimed by the Peebles camp, it is nevertheless true that the motivation to make sure Roundtree would not be the next elected sheriff seemed to wane over time.
After all the anguish involving Robbie Silas, Sheriff Strength’s brother-in-law, when the prized Strength endorsement finally came, it was so perfunctory that it seemed to mean nothing.
Not to be outdone, the Republican congressional runoff remained excruciatingly tight throughout the evening, but by the end of the night, Lee Anderson edged out Rick Allen by an even smaller margin, surprising many who felt the wealthy businessman would prevail against the politically connected farmer.
Observations from the 2012 Primary
While it’s no secret that money talks, it doesn’t always say the right thing.
Though Evans real estate attorney Wright McLeod was a veritable no name at the beginning of the congressional primary, he vaulted to the front of the pack of Republican congressional candidates when he raised more money in the first quarter of 2012 than anyone else.
Unfortunately for McLeod, that money seemed to speak directly to Rick Allen, and what it said was, “Be Afraid.” Allen was, and turned the guns on him. And with all the candidates more or less politically interchangeable, it made sense. McLeod was encroaching on Allen’s donors, and he was the biggest threat to get between him and Anderson in the runoff.
From the Inside
Though no one around Augusta seemed too concerned that former Mayor Bob Young endorsed Rick Allen, plenty from outside Augusta were.
Though it’s perfectly routine for a former mayor to endorse a congressional candidate, many think the fact that Young moderated the final candidate roundtable the Friday night before the general primary should have prevented such an endorsement.
WJBF, that station that hosted the debate, refused to comment, but University of Georgia political scientist Charles Bullock told the Metro Spirit that such actions were “certainly out of the ordinary” and something the “basic training of a journalist wouldn’t allow.”
Brent Cunningham, the managing editor of the Columbia Journalism Review was even more frank.
“It’s pretty cut and dry,” he said. “It’s not something you would do, especially days before a runoff.”
Allen’s campaign wasn’t the only one playing fast and loose with the campaign rules. In a mailer and television ads, Anderson accused Rick Allen of donating money to John Barrow, a charge the Allen campaign was able to turn to its advantage, thanks Missouri Republican Todd Akin’s weekend implosion, in which he told a reporter that the female body had ways of shutting down the reproductive process in cases of “legitimate rape,” a comment that drew criticism from both sides of the aisle.
Allen sent out a press release condemning Anderson’s ad and tying it to Akin.
“After the advertisement was proven to a flat-out lie, career politician Lee Anderson’s campaign has pulled the advertisement, which was produced by disgraced Missouri Senate Candidate Todd Akin’s media firm, off the air,” Allen’s press release reported.
The CSRA Republican Women’s Club sent out a press release the morning of the runoff promoting a United We Stand celebration scheduled for Thursday, August 23.
The most surprising thing is that all four of the 12th District Republican candidates confirmed their attendance, which, though it’s pretty much the definition of awkward, could also be downright uncomfortable, given the margin of victory between Anderson and Allen and the allegations that there was a financial motivation for fourth place finisher Maria Sheffield’s endorsement of Anderson. Many have wondered why Sheffield, an attorney, hasn’t refuted the accusation, so someone is bound to ask her if she’s there.
The Silas Connection
Given the closeness of Roundtree’s victory, it seems likely that many will be turning a critical eye one again to Robbie Silas’ candidacy. Even though he wasn’t in the runoff, his presence was a large one. The friction between his supporters and Peebles’ supporters at the end of the general primary fostered plenty of bad blood, and it seems almost certain that Peebles got little help from that voter base in the runoff.You Might Also Like: