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The 2012 Campaign starts here
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Georgia’s recent gubernatorial race was a no-win situation. I pretty much felt that I was choosing between the lesser of two evils.

My frustration with the issue led me to contact the office of Georgia’s Secretary of State to inquire if I could declare as a write-in candidate for governor. Alas, Sept. 15 was the cutoff date for write-in candidate notification. I missed the boat...

What, you might ask, would drive me to consider running for public office? After all, I’ve never held any elected public office in my life. Why, then, would I suddenly be motivated to inhabit the mansion on Atlanta’s fashionable West Paces Ferry Road?

I think it was because of the negative campaigning, featuring both sides slinging mud at the other, and each containing at least a little bit of veracity. I don’t know if Roy Barnes actually won millions of dollars by trying lawsuits before judges he appointed during his first stint in the governor’s chair. I don’t know if Nathan Deal was the most corrupt member of the United States Congress.

But I do know that Roy Barnes shafted Georgia’s teachers his first time around, as I was still in the social studies classroom back then. The old adage "fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me," eliminated any chance of voting for Barnes.

And there was enough smoke obscuring a clear view of Deal to make me think "where there’s smoke, there’s fire." So I didn’t want to vote for Deal, either.

I figure what Georgia really needs in the governor’s office is a person who first and foremost loves this state. Give me someone who treasures every nuance of Georgia, from the hidden beauty of Cloudland Canyon in the northwest across to Brasstown Bald in the northeast, from the Okefenokee Swamp and the Barrier Islands in the southeast across to Thomasville in the southwest, and everywhere in between. Someone who remembers Helen, Ga., when it was just an abandoned concrete building overlooking the Chattahoochee River. Someone who understands that it’s good for the soul to drive down a dirt road to visit the spot where a creek always runs over it. Somebody who climbs Stone Mountain in the dead of winter, when it’s just you and the rock and the essence of what the red man had before the Europeans came here.

Since dirt roads, red clay and pine trees course through my veins, I figure I’m qualified on the first count.

Next, I’d really like a governor who is above politics. This partisan bickering has run its course and come full circle to the point where nothing much gets done unless it feathers somebody’s nest or scratches the back of them what helped get the governor elected.

That’s got to come to an end, not only on the national level, but on the state and local levels, as well. If a politician is out for his or her own glory, if they view a political office as an end instead of as a means to serve the people whom they represent, they don’t need to be there.

As one who’s never in his life voted a straight ticket, I figure I’m qualified on the second count.

Finally, I view the governor as basically a glorified cheerleader. Yes, there are constitutional requirements. But primarily the governor needs to be one who can reconcile differences between parties to get things accomplished, negotiate in a conciliatory manner with other states and Federal agencies as to how best to solve a problem (i.e.; it’s our water in Lake Lanier, not Alabama’s nor Florida’s), and to balance the demand for progress with that of leaving the countryside in better shape than it was when inherited.

So I figure I fit the bill on all counts. But, alas, I missed the deadline for notifying the Secretary of State to put me on the ballot as a write-in candidate for governor. By my own slovenliness at taking action, I robbed the people of the largest state east of the Mississippi River of an opportunity to write-in the name of a person whose only motivation is to serve his native state to the best of his feeble ability.

I’ve been kicking myself ever since. And I’ve been asking myself what I could possibly do to make amends.

Well, my epiphany has arrived. Yes, it’s too late for me to help my native state in the gubernatorial race of 2010, but the Presidential election of 2012 is coming. For sure I won’t be voting for the Democratic incumbent, but so far the Republicans have failed to offer any capable, charismatic alternative.

So I believe, boys and girls, that my hat’s in the ring. God bless you, and God bless our United States of America.


Nat Harwell is a long-time resident of Newton County. His columns appear regularly on Sundays.