Oh, I like this lady. I like her a lot.
Natalie Spires Paine.
Augusta area native. Lakeside High School graduate. Wife. Mom. Assistant District Attorney.
Five feet, eight inches of “prosecutorial badass” (those exact words from one of my law enforcement buddies). Thirty-three-years-old, and pound for pound probably one of the most aggressive and gifted prosecutors to ever practice in the Augusta Judicial Circuit.
With incumbent District Attorney Ashley Wright almost a lock to be named by Governor Nathan Deal to replace retiring Superior Court Judge David Roper, we will soon have a new leader guiding this community’s serious criminal prosecutions.
I am here to tell you there are few prospective candidates for the job that possess all the attitude, brains and aggressive conservative common sense that Natalie does, all while bringing to the table a strong work ethic that comes across as second nature to all who know her.
Nothing against former District Attorney (and current Superior Court Judge) Danny Craig or the incumbent, Ashley Wright, both of whom I consider good friends, but I have not been this excited about the prospects of a new DA since Republican Mike Eubanks shocked the world in 1988 and beat the incumbent Democrat DA Sam Sibley.
Sibley had been a political ally of an entrenched Columbia County power structure that wrongly targeted then Sheriff Otis Hensley, a newly elected Republican in 1984, for torment and eventual removal. Hensley fought back in the courts against obviously trumped-up charges of misconduct in office and, as a result, Sibley and all five of the county commissioners who opposed the sheriff were turned out into the streets by voters. It was the beginning of the Republican takeover of Columbia County that remains in full force to this day.
Unfortunately, Eubanks only stayed in office one term before attempting to supplant one of the most liberal Superior Court judges to ever serve in Augusta, the now retiring Carlisle Overstreet. Back in those days, it was the local Bar Association, guided by the “dark forces” calling the shots at the “old” Fleming Law Firm, that dictated as best they could who would run and win in judicial races, and succeeded in getting gubernatorial appointments to the bench.
These days, that power has flipped completely from the Democrat power structure straight over to state and local Republican power players and, most importantly, the solid conservative voting block that lives in Columbia County. (The circuit is also comprised of Burke County, which brings almost an exact 50-50 split between Republicans and Democrats, and Richmond County, which is about a 60-40 split, with the Dems ahead there.) Columbia County’s solid 75 percent plus conservative voting base virtually guarantees that qualified Republican/conservative candidates are going to win the judicial elections every single time.
The conservative transformation of the circuit works out perfectly for the aspiring chief prosecutor. Natalie Paine is not only a lifelong conservative Republican, she brings a refreshing and, yes, audaciously aggressive dislike for criminals and the criminal lifestyle to the courtroom A demeanor and agenda that reminds me of not only of Eubanks, but the aforementioned Sheriff Hensley as well.
I guess I could make a joke about her lineage, with tongue-in-cheek references to perhaps some blood relationship between those old times and Paine, but the real life story about her background is way more cool.
Natalie’s Aunt Connie is a dear old friend of mine. She was a few years older than me, but as one of my cousin Christi’s very best friends, she was practically family. I have loved Connie dearly for about 45 years.
Speaking of 45 years, that is about the amount of time Augusta was in love with Connie’s dad, and Natalie’s grandfather, the late, great, local broadcasting legend George Fisher.
Yep… that George Fisher. (As if there could be another!)
If you paid attention when George was “marching the kids out the door to school” during his morning radio shows on WBBQ, WFNL, WBIA and WGAC, you would have caught Natalie’s name listed among his ever growing list of grandchildren.
Point of order, because I know some of you are saying it right now, no, this is not an endorsement of Natalie’s talents or candidacy based on my personal relationship with her extended family. Hand to Heaven, I had no idea Natalie Paine was in fact the same Natalie Spires that was related to the Fisher clan, as her first few years in the courtroom were being described to me by her fellow lawyers and, most specifically, the local cops who love her.
All I knew about was the “blonde spitfire” who criminal attorneys were starting to regard as their own local version of Supergirl when it came to causing heartache for the criminal ne’er’do wells in our fair city.
I was a fan by reputation long before I knew anything about her personally, and certainly long before I was made aware of the connection to George. (Man oh man would he be proud of her!)
So enough of old home week; let me conclude with the enthusiasm and delight that swept across me, no doubt like the liberal daydreams that fill Judge Overstreet’s “quiet moments of reflection.” Natalie Paine is the real deal. Here’s to hoping she commits to taking the plunge, and signs the dotted line when the time comes to replace her ascending boss.
There are so many great political opportunities ahead when it comes to promoting conservative, common sense “law and order” in our community, and if Natalie Paine is leading the fight as District Attorney, consider it progress at warp speed!