Last Thursday I joined several of my House colleagues on an RV travelling through SE Georgia. We were campaigning for Rep. Mark Hatfield, who is now running for the Senate seat left open by the retirement of Greg Goggans. Hatfield threw his hat in the ring along with Republicans Tyler Harper and Rodney Vickers as well as Democrat Gene Mitchell. I’m not an expert of SE Ga politics, but I did stay at a Holday Inn Express Wednesday night. Sorry I couldn’t resist.
I rode down on Wednesday with Rep. Stephen Allison and Rep. Sam Teasley to Waycross. Rep. Delvis Dutton of Glenville joined us at the hotel. We kicked off the tour Thursday morning at The Okefenokee Restaurant in Folkson and spoke to a reporter from the Charlton County Herald who’s paper is published weekly. The next stop was the Ware County Courthouse in Waycross then a stop at the Waycross Journal-Herald, on of the last family owned daily newspapers in Georgia.
The lunchtime stop was in Blackshear at the Oak Plaza Restaurant where we were joined by Rep. Alex Atwood (picture l-r Sam Teasley (looking right) Alex Atwood, Stephen Allison, Mark Hatfield (standing), Me, Delvis Dutton.
Atwood has a way of delivering memorable quotes so when asked by the Mayor of Blackshear why he should support Hatfield for the Senate, Alex said Mark was honest, independent, and smart. “He’s not a ‘yes’ man and sometimes you need to say the baby is ugly. Mark Hatfield isn’t afraid to speak out when it’s needed.”
That’s the key issue for me. We need independent thinkers and people with backbone in elected office. I don’t agree with Mark Hatfield on every issue. In fact there were a couple of times while serving on a committee with him that I strongly disagreed with him. However I always knew his views were his own and he arrived at those views because he thought they were in the best interests of his constituents. Believe me, the last thing the Senate needs is a person unsure of himself or easily swayed. I don’t know which “team” Mark Hatfield will join if he’s elected. I doubt he’ll join either team that currently exists in the Senate GOP Caucus. I trust he’ll continue to do what he thinks best for his district, even if he has to stand alone.
One other thing I’ll say about Mark Hatfield. As you all know redistricting placed him in a district with another GOP incumbent. When his constituents found out a group of them rented a bus and made the four hour trip from Waycross to testify on Mark’s behalf before the the House Reapportionment Committee. How many other elected officials have such loyal supporters?
Leaving Blackshear we traveled to Alma for a rally at the Bacon County Courthouse then Douglas to visit people at the Coffee County Courthouse. The day ended at the Coffee County GOP for a ribbon cutting opening their campaign head-quarters. We met a lot a good people on our trip, ate a lot of good food and were pretty much worn out at the end of the day. Hopefully we helped Mark Hatfield in his Senate bid.