GOP rules primaries
By LOUIE BROGDON
The Brunswick News
At the close of qualifying Friday for the July 31 party primaries and nonpartisan elections, Republicans continue to dominate politics in Brunswick and the Golden Isles.
Democrats qualified three candidates from Wednesday until noon Friday, when qualifying closed. But Republicans put up 29 candidates -- meaning 13 local contests will be settled at the primary, unless independent candidates qualify after the primaries, between July 30 and noon Aug. 3, for the general election.
Business owner Gary Cook joined insurance agent Allen Booker Friday as a Democratic candidate for the Glynn County Commission District 5 seat. Incumbent Democrat Jerome Clark is not seeking re-election.
Cook or Booker will in November face one of three Republicans challenging for the seat -- Anna Hall, a Jekyll Island Authority communications specialist, Robbie Tucker, a business owner, or Tashawnta Wells, a Habitat for Humanity employee.
Glynn County Board of Education District 5 incumbent Venus Holmes is unopposed as a Democrat, but she will face unopposed Republican Darylynne "Dee" Rogers in November.
Audrey Stewart, chair of the Glynn County Democratic Party, says she was disappointed that more Democratic candidates didn't decide to run for offices. She said some possibly were hindered by professional commitments.
"We had a number of candidates who could have qualified, but some work for federal agencies, or their companies' personnel departments said it would not be a good idea to run for political office," Stewart said.
The Democratic chair could not explain why many Democratic voters in Glynn County shifted their allegiance in the late 1990s, but she said money had something to do with it.
When Stewart challenged State Rep. Alex Atwood, R-St. Simons Island, who is running unopposed as of Friday, she said beating Republicans in fundraising seemed an up hill battle.
Stewart said she was heartened to see two Democrats stepping up to challenge incumbent U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston, R-1.
Retired St. Simons Island businessman Nathan Russo will face Savannah business owner Lesli Rae Messinger in a Democratic primary for the opportunity to try to deny Kingston an 11th term.
Ron Sadowski, chair of the Glynn County Republican Party, says he is not surprised by the local Grand Old Party's turnout of candidates, compared to the Democrats' showing. He said he knows why residents changed their political colors.
"It's because we're right and they're wrong," Sadowski said. "This was a Democratic community when the Democrats were conservative, but as liberalism crept in, they left the party."
Sadowski says the people and ideals of Glynn County haven't changed. It is only their political affiliation that shifted, he said.
The seven Republican vs. Republican primary races don't bother Sadowski. In fact, he wished more Republicans had become candidates.
"The party's philosophy for this primary season was to have competitive races. I wanted two (Republican) candidates for each office, so people had a choice," Sadowski said. "The party's goal is for someone who has an 'R' next to their name, that they are the best candidate -- not the only candidate."
One of those GOP dominated primaries brought former Republican gubernatorial candidate Jeff Chapman back to politics.
Chapman is challenging Brunswick architect John Tuten for the House District 167 seat that was vacated by Roger Lane, who left his seat this month and donned a Glynn County Superior Court Judge's robe as Gov. Nathan Deal's appointment. Chapman previously held the state Senate seat now filled by state Sen. William Ligon, R-Waverly, who is unopposed in the primary and has no Democratic challenger in November.