OK, Democrats: Doug McKillip, shortly after we re-elected him as our State Representative, switched to the Republican Party, where he was welcomed by the Republican leadership. â€œThat Dougâ€™s crazy,â€ we all shouted. â€œJust wait â€™til the next election. Weâ€™ll kick his butt in this heavily Democratic district.â€ Duh. Reapportionment was coming up, and reapportionment is accomplished by the Republican-dominated Legislature, donâ€™t you know? Next thing we see, here comes the Legislatureâ€™s reapportionment committee holding hearings to find out what we all want over here. After politely listening to the folks from Oconee County saying how much they appreciated having the whole county in one district and the people from Athens-Clarke County saying, â€œIt it ainâ€™t broke, donâ€™t fix it,â€ dang if they didnâ€™t go and fix it especially for Rep. McKillip, ripping off a chunk of Oconee County, carefully drawing the lines to exclude opponents in Athens-Clarke and then throwing in parts of Barrow County and Jackson County.
Presto-changeo! What was a heavily Democratic district is now a heavily Republican district. Itâ€™s called District 117, but it might as well be called District McKillip, because it is his own, sweet payoff from his new best cronies in Atlanta.
Wait a minute! Donâ€™t get mad at Doug. Itâ€™s just politics. No need at all to get madâ€”but you might want to get even.
Turns out Doug has an opponent: Regina Quickâ€”a tough, hard-working attorney. She is a lot more conservative than you and I, and sheâ€™s a leader in the local Republican Party. She is honest. You may not like what sheâ€™s telling you, but you can take it to the bank that she is telling you the truth as she sees it. You cannot say that about Rep. McKillip. (I have known Regina for a long time. Before she took a year off to travel, she was Flagpoleâ€™s attorney, and we came to rely on her wise counsel.)
So, Regina Quick is running against Doug; she has bona-fide credentials as a real Republican, not because it is expedient to be a Republican in Athens-Clarke County, but because thatâ€™s what fits her conservative convictions. Regina is a formidable candidate, even though McKillip is the â€œincumbent,â€ running in his stitched-together Frankenstein of a district. Regina ran against Doug once before, back when his was a heavily Democratic district and he was still a Democrat, plus the popular E.H. Culpepper was running as an Independent.
Now, 60 percent of Dougâ€™s new District 117 is in Athens-Clarke County, and 40 percent is scattered among parts of Oconee, Barrow and Jackson. The Athens-Clarke part takes in some of our most Republican areasâ€”Timothy Road, part of Five Points, Bogartâ€”but it still has a lot of Democrats.
So, hereâ€™s the deal. Every self-respecting Democrat in Athens-Clarke County wants to see this travesty ended with McKillipâ€™s defeat. One would also think that most self-respecting Athens-Clarke County Republicans would prefer one of their own stalwarts to this Dougie-come-lately psuedo-Republican-for-convenience, who is even messing with the structure of our local government just to impress his pals in Atlanta.
One can also assume that there are quite a few people of whatever political persuasion in the District 117 parts of Oconee, Barrow and Jackson who frankly resent being dragged into this Athens-dominated district.
I cannot speak for Republicans, but I can say to the Democrats in District 117: Vote for Regina Quick in the Republican primary on July 31. You do not have to register as a Republican. You will still be a Democrat, and you can still vote Democratic in the general election. Rest assured, there will be a Democrat in the 117 race. After you have bumped off McKillip in the Republican Primary, you can vote for that Democrat in the General Election if you like him or her better than Regina Quick. You will have stopped the power play whereby once again the Republicans in Atlanta have sliced and diced Athens-Clarke County for their own purposes. You will have beaten the turncoat who betrayed you, and you can be proud that you took advantage of this opportunity to get even.
The cold, hard fact is that the 117th is drawn as a heavily Republican district. A Republican will by all odds be elected in that district. You have the power to make sure that Republican is not Doug McKillip. Fortunately, the alternative is Regina Quick.
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