Deja Vu? Cobb Chairman's Race Likely Results In 2012 Repeat, Analyst Says

Roger Tutterow
Roger Tutterow

KENNESAW, Ga. (Jan 16, 2016) — Cobb Countians are being treated to a case of deja vu concerning the county chairman’s race, with retired businessman Larry Savage and retired Marine Col. Mike Boyce announcing they will challenge Chairman Tim Lee for the seat in the May 24 Republican primary.

Lee easily beat both men in the 2012 Republican primary, receiving 29,055 votes, followed by former county Chairman Bill Byrne, who received 19,403; Boyce, who received 17,042; and Savage, who received 7,666. That race prompted a runoff, which, in the absence of any Democrats running, determined the next chairman.

Lee won the runoff, receiving 14,315 votes to Byrne’s 13,023 votes.

Kerwin Swint, a political science professor at Kennesaw State University, said at present he doesn’t see a different outcome in this election.

“If there was only one candidate in opposition, either Boyce or Savage, I would say they would have an opportunity to pick up sort of the anti-Lee vote, but with the two of them, it might be split, even though I don’t expect Savage to get much support this time around either. Boyce is better organized than (Savage) is,” Swint said.

To unseat an incumbent, there must be a strong mobilization effort against that person and Swint said he doesn’t see such a force.

“I know (Lee) has opponents, and I know people aren’t happy with everything that he’s done, but I don’t know that that’s going to be enough to topple him,” Swint said.

Qualifying for the seat begins on March 7 and requires a $3,896 fee. The race will likely be decided in the Republican primary given the large number of Republican voters here, Swint said.

Cobb GOP Chair Rose Wing points to the county’s 2012 general election results as evidence of Cobb’s Republican majority. In that election, Republicans made up 45.07 percent of the vote, Democrats 32.73 percent, and swing voters 22.19 percent.

Lee says he plans to spend about $350,000 on the race and is confident he will raise it.

“I need to be cautiously optimistic and run hard, which we will do. We have a plan for success. We’re going to stick to it, and we believe at the end of the day come primary, we’ll be successful,” he said.

Savage was one of several people who challenged the Cobb-Marietta Coliseum & Exhibit Hall Authority’s plan to issue $376.6 million in bonds to finance the construction of SunTrust Park. Last July, the Georgia Supreme Court ruled the decision was legal.

“We’ve got a world of issues in Cobb County that are going to have to be addressed in the next few years, and if I don’t bring them into this discussion, this campaign, they’re going to be ignored,” Savage said.

What makes Savage believe this race will be any different than the last one?

“Last time, we didn’t have an opportunity to talk about the issues because in the last election it was all about personality between Bill Byrne and Tim Lee,” Savage said. “We’re going to talk about issues this time if I have to arm wrestle everybody, pull them to the ground and make them do it.”

For Boyce, the difference in this campaign is that he has a more extensive campaign staff and volunteer team to address the weakness he faced last time, “which is a lot of people didn’t know me. And people won’t vote for somebody they don’t know,” Boyce said.

Boyce also didn’t have the kind of technology he has now with voter lists and phone banks, he said.

“When people ask me when I go door to door what it is about me that’s different, I say I only have one question: Why am I allowed to vote on a $40 million park bond, but I’m not allowed to vote on a $400 million stadium bond? That is the one question everybody knows about, and I get a positive response,” he said.

Boyce admitted he could not raise the kind of money Lee can.

“The only way I can beat somebody with that kind of money is what I have right now which is called grassroots and volunteers,” he said. “Some days I feel like George Washington at Valley Forge. I know what he was going through. But I’m a Marine. I never give up. And I have really passionate volunteers.”

ECONOMICS 101: During Bank of North Georgia’s annual economic forecast breakfast on Wednesday, bank president Rob Garcia introduced Kennesaw State University economics professor Dr. Roger Tutterow, saying while attendees may not like what his forecast holds, they would at least be entertained by the way he says it.

And while Tutterow told the packed crowd at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre ballroom that sluggish growth in the 2 percent range was the likely scenario for 2016, he did entertain with some witty remarks.

The professor began by apologizing for a cold that caused his voice to sound “like a combination of Louis Armstrong and Linda Blair from The Exorcist.”

The bank sponsored the breakfast, but the economist offered a disclaimer.

“Nothing I say represents the opinion of Bank of North Georgia or Synovus, it is simply the over-caffeinated ramblings of a school teacher, so take it for that,” Tutterow advised.

As an economist, Tutterow said he was required by federal law to utter the phrase “supply and demand” at least once during any speech. He prompted the audience to shout out “supply and demand” after asking it why oil prices went down.

“Congratulations,” Tutterow told them. “You’re inducted into the brotherhood of economists. You just got a pay cut, by the way.”

COBB SCHOOL BOARD: All four Cobb Board of Education members who are up for re-election this year have announced they will run again. They are Democrat David Morgan and Republicans David Banks, Brad Wheeler and Randy Scamihorn.

Qualifying for those offices is the week of March 7 through 11. Because they are partisan seats, candidates will qualify with their parties before running in the May 24 primary and the Nov.8 general election. The qualifying fee to run for a seat on the board is $570. The position itself pays $19,000 annually.

CAMPAINGING FOR CRUZ: Former U.S. Rep. Bob Barr of Smyrna, serving as co-chairman of the Second Amendment Coalition and National Chairman for the Liberty Leaders for Cruz Coalition, spoke at a Second Amendment Rally in Hudson, New Hampshire, on Tuesday, and later joined Sen. Ted Cruz at a New Hampshire town hall.

AS HE BEGAN HIS FIRST State of the City address before the Kennesaw Business Association on Tuesday, Kennesaw’s new mayor, Derek Easterling, admitted to being a bit nervous in front of the packed room of movers and shakers. Easterling said he was given some advice by a friend prior to speaking.

“He said ‘imagine Bob Weatherford in his skivvies,’” Easterling recounted.

Sitting at a front table, Weatherford piped up, “Some of them might like it,” prompting laughter and groans from the audience.

-Marietta Daily Journal