Columbia County Commission Chairman Ron Cross will have some competition for his seat this November.
And this new candidate is no stranger to Cross.
Just days after Cross announced he will seek a fourth term, local businessman Jim Bartley has officially entered the race and he will definitely shake this election up.
Last week, 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, himself.
But now it appears that Bartley is trying to deny that he was ever involved with those ads.
This week, Bartley told The Columbia County News-Times Publisher Steve Crawford that he was not involved in a smear campaign against Cross in 2010.
“I had nothing to do with the ugly,” Bartley reportedly said. “I had nothing to do with the ads.”
Come on, Bartley. Don’t start off your campaign with a major misstep. Come clean about your involvement in the ads. In fact, be proud of your actions if you are so against Cross.
Otherwise, such denials are weak and make you appear untrustworthy.
If Bartley is honest about his actions in the 2010 election and continues with the same tactics, he 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.
One of the ads even demanded Cross’ “trial” for the commission’s decision in 2009 to scale down the Marshall Square development, which ultimately killed the original project.
But through it all, Cross simply remained defiant.
“I don’t apologize for trying to stop big apartment complexes,” Cross said in 2010.
Hold onto your hats Columbia County, this race is about to get exciting.