Columbia County Commission Chairman Ron Cross will have some competition this time around.
And this new candidate is no stranger to Cross.
Ladies and gentlemen, local businessman Jim Bartley has officially entered the race and he will definitely shake this election up.
Just yesterday, Bartley filed his forms announcing his intentions to run and begin accepting campaign contributions.
Republicans around the county should prepare for a battle because Bartley doesn’t pull punches and never holds his tongue.
There are no bones about it: Bartley is anti-Cross all the way.
Back in 2010, when Cross also faced a challenger for the chairmanship in retired Appling businessman Brett McGuire, there was another battle he was fighting behind the scenes.
During that campaign, on one side, he was fighting McGuire, who had the support of several Republicans on the county’s executive board, but on the other side he found himself battling an informational campaign that was unleashed against him by the Columbia County Taxpayers’ Council, whose print ads regularly appeared in The Columbia County News-Times.
According to the Secretary of State’s office in 2010, the registered agent of the nonprofit corporation was Bartley, who was then a member of the Columbia County Republican Party’s executive committee.
Well, it turns out that Bartley has decided to come out of the shadows and run against Cross.
As the 2010 election proved, Bartley won’t make it easy on Cross.
For example, those ads that ran in 2010, which were posted on Columbia County Taxpayers’ Council’s website, were harshly critical of Cross, particularly regarding Cross’ involvement in downsizing the original Marshall Square development.
But through it all, Cross simply remained defiant.
“I don’t apologize for trying to stop big apartment complexes,” Cross said, referring to an ad that demanded his “trial” for the commission’s decision in 2009 to scale down the Marshall Square development, which ultimately killed the original project.
As news of Bartley’s campaign is quickly spreading across Columbia County, it is unclear whether McGuire will decide to mix things up and jump into the race again.
It seems unlikely he will considering Bartley has entered the race because those two candidates would likely split their group of voters.
After all, their supporters are pretty much one and the same.
But hold onto your hats Columbia County, this race is about to get exciting.