While the race for Columbia County Commission Chair is entering into its final month, the endorsements are pouring in for candidate Doug Duncan.
Just this week, U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, Georgia Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens and Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler announced that they all endorsed Duncan as chairman.
“I’m grateful for Doug Duncan’s strong support over the years and know he will make Columbia County citizens proud as their next Chairman,” Isakson stated in a news release.
“Doug Duncan has the right experience and knowledge to lead Columbia County forward,” added Labor Commissioner Mark Butler. “With experience in starting and growing businesses in the private sector, Doug Duncan knows how to spur job creation and investment. Under his leadership, Columbia County will be a hub of economic opportunity and growth.”
“Doug Duncan is a successful businessman and proven conservative leader,” Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens stated. “He’s respected throughout Georgia and will make a great chairman. Doug loves his community and will work hard to keep Columbia County moving in the right direction.”
These endorsements can be added to the growing list of those who support Duncan including Columbia County Sheriff Clay Whittle and Grovetown Mayor Gary Jones.
In fact, Whittle was extremely specific in his endorsement of Duncan earlier this month.
Not only did he lend his voice to a radio ad supporting Duncan, but he also sat down with WJBF News Channel 6 reporter Ashley Campbell and specifically spelled out his reasons for choosing Duncan.
“I normally don’t get involved in races like this when somebody is new in the races unless it’s someone I think very highly of and someone who’s perfect for the job,” Whittle told WJBF about Duncan, who the sheriff says he’s known for more than 25 years. “I know him personally, I know his character, I know what he stands for.”
Specifically, Whittle said he appreciated Duncan’s support for pay increases to the sheriff’s department following the state’s announcement that Georgia State Patrol would be getting a 20 percent boost in salary.
“With this new coming budget, we’re expected to be on parity with the state employees,” Whittle told Campbell earlier this month. “I haven’t had any of my employees wanting to leave yet because they know what’s coming, they’ve seen their pay increase.”
The sheriff also took a bit of a dig at former EMA Director Pam Tucker’s campaign for chair of Columbia County.
“When I start seeing people downgrading the county, and make it appear to the voters that things are messed up and they need a ‘change,’ and I know that’s not true, again, I’m an elected official and it’s incumbent of me to tell them that’s not true,” Whittle told News Channel 6.
Needless to say, that didn’t sit well with Tucker.
On the same day that Channel 6’s interview with Whittle aired, Tucker posted a message to her campaign’s Facebook page thanking her supporters for their commitment.
She also sent Whittle her own message.
“It is not incumbent upon any elected official or anyone else to tell you who to vote for,” Tucker posted. “You already know. #ItsTuckerTime.”
But Tucker has been on the defense for the past several weeks, even pointing out “untruths” in Duncan’s campaign ads, including the radio spot recorded by Whittle.
“It is so predictable that the other candidate for Commission Chair would have a radio spot saying that there would be ‘no drama’ in his administration,” Tucker posted on April 9. “And I agree with him — because when the election is over, he goes right back to his job and everything is business as usual as it has been for the past three years and four months that he’s been in office. Continued problems with nobody caring about the citizens.”
“And don’t worry too much about endorsements from elected officials for the other guy,” Tucker added. “That just means that they are buddies and they sure don’t want an honest person that they have been envious of and that they now are fearful of coming in and shaking things up.”
Yikes. Tucker does realize if she wins the May 22 election and becomes chair she’ll have to work with the sheriff, right?
After all, he’s an elected official, too. She can’t fire him.
Tucker even criticized her old pal, WGAC Radio Talk Show Host Austin Rhodes, after he announced that he supported Duncan in the race.
“I don’t have the key to the country club,” Tucker posted after hearing that Rhodes supported Duncan.
It’s clear that Tucker is going on the attack, even though she is claiming to take the high road.
Getting ugly this close to an election is a risky gamble.
“I helped people for 39 years. Night and day, holidays, weekends, vacation, whatever. Doug has been on the commission for three years and four months and has done nothing,” Tucker recently posted. “If you like how things are now, then vote for Doug. Because nothing will change. I’m offering myself as an honest person who just wants to do right by our citizens. I am not a politician trying to use this as a steppingstone to a state election.”
One of her supporters responded that it was just “those good ‘ole boys” trying to smear Tucker.
“It’s not up to them … it’s up to the voters,” Tucker wrote. “People know what they get with me. I’ve been serving them for four decades. I have stayed away from the negative, hateful posts being written and let them marinate in them. I simply want to get my message out without any of that. High Road is My Road.”
Right now, her road is actually kicking up a lot of mud.
It’s not pretty.