Former state Rep. Lee Anderson recently proved his critics wrong.
Anderson, who happens to be facing a July runoff against fellow Republican Greg Grzybowski in the race for the state Senate District 24 seat has “enthusiastically accepted” his challenger’s offer of a debate.
This, despite the fact that his critics love to point out that Anderson isn’t the greatest public speaker of all time.
“From serving on the School Board and County Commission to fighting for our community in the Georgia General Assembly, I’ve dedicated my entire life to public service,” Anderson stated in a recent press release. “I’m proud of my conservative record of effectiveness and look forward to debating Mr. Grzybowski in the days and weeks leading up to the July 26th Primary run-off election.”
So, why is this big news?
Well, most people will remember back in 2012 when Gwen Fulcher Young, the wife of former Augusta Mayor Bob Young, boldly campaigned for Congressman John Barrow, a Democrat, who was running against Anderson in the 12th Congressional district race.
Republicans were shocked that the wife of Bob Young, who was appointed by then- President George W. Bush as the Atlanta Regional Director for HUD’s Region IV, would have the gall to support Barrow over Anderson, the Republican candidate.
But Fulcher Young let her feelings be known — loud and clear.
“Sending Lee Anderson to Washington would be like sending Honey Boo Boo up there,” Fulcher Young reportedly said, referring to the former reality TV star known for her Southern sass. “It just seems to me that he represents the ignorance that people used to think of when they think of Southerners.”
That quote was quickly picked up by the national press and folks ran with it.
It worked perfectly with the campaign photos of Anderson riding his tractor and asking voters for their support with his incredibly thick Southern accent.
People were making so much fun of Anderson that it got to the point that he refused to debate Barrow.
That year, Anderson’s campaign sent out a very odd press release regarding future debates with Barrow.
“Lee Anderson will consider sharing the stage with John Barrow once he stands in front of a local television camera and confesses his politically disastrous secret — he’s voting for Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi,” the 2012 press release stated. “Until that confession, John Barrow is just another professional politician that’s incapable of telling the truth to voters in Georgia’s 12th and doesn’t deserve a platform to further promote his empty campaign promises and tired political rhetoric.”
The campaign announcement was widely seen as a weak excuse by Anderson to simply avoid debating Barrow, who was a much more experienced politician and a well-spoken attorney, to boot.
But this time around, Anderson seems to feel pretty confident against Grzybowski, the former District 3 candidate on Columbia County Commission.
Grzybowski is relatively new to local politics, but he shouldn’t be counted out or underestimated.
Sure, he is a “Yankee” who was born in New York and has a difficult last name to spell, but do people really care about that stuff these days?
Grzybowski is an enthusiastic speaker and conservative Republican who attended James Madison University in Virginia where he earned a bachelor’s degree in political science, history and military science. Following college, he was commissioned as a second lieutenant into the United States Army under the Reserve Officer Training Program in 1992.
He then served for 23 years as both a military intelligence and acquisition officer retiring at the rank of lieutenant colonel.
Those qualifications are pretty impressive, especially in Columbia County.
It also doesn’t hurt that Grzybowski has a commanding presence when he speaks.
In fact, during one of first public debates last year when he was running for the county commission, several observers commented, “He sounds like he should run for Congress rather than a county commission seat.”
Well, Grzybowski isn’t running for Congress, but he hopes to get your vote to represent state Senate District 24 in Atlanta.
What will Grzybowski’s biggest hurdles be during this runoff?
Two things: Anderson’s name recognition and his endorsement by Columbia County Sheriff Clay Whittle.
Those are two strengths that play very well in Columbia County.
But once those two candidates get up on stage for a debate, it just might be anyone’s race.