Handicapping the Field
Since the Honorable James Mills took an appointment to the Pardons and Paroles board, a feeding frenzy has started in who was going to replace them. So I think it is time to meet the candidates and find out what we can find out. So let’s take them in alphabetical order:
Bobby Banks: Mr. Banks is the previous commissioner for Hall County. He lost his reelection campaign (apparently for not working hard enough) to Mr. Lutz. While having served 1 term on the County Commission, he would like you to think that he is the political outsider (well, he was kicked out of the Party so I guess he is an outsider).
Commissioner Banks has a lot of enemies, but a lot of name recognition as well. Being first on the ballot will provide a lot of help. In looking at his last race, he is strong in the North part of the district, but weak in the populated areas (south and west).
Emory West Dunahoo (no web site found): It looks like he is also running on the political outsider platform saying on the Al Gainey Show today that he is tired of politics and politicians. I wonder how that makes his sister feel since she is married to the Honorable James Mills whom he is trying to replace.
As a former Oakwood business person and living in the North end of the district he will need to work to get the south end vote.
Paul Wayne Godfrey: You have to give Mr. Godfrey his due; he has stuck with his convictions and placed a “D” next to his name on the ballot. This will be good for short term gain, but may cost him the war (more later). He is a retired Air Force Lt. Colonel, retired college professor and very educated with a doctorate.
He just ran a campaign a year ago. There are rumors that Bobby Banks helped his campaign (one of the reasons he was booted from the party), so he may not see all the support he gained last November.
Dominic Ottaviano: So far his web site looks to be mostly under construction. Fortunately, he did make an appearance on the Al Gainey show as well. He owns a home health care company and his platform appears to be about deregulating the industry.
Dominic lives in the South end (Reunion subdivision), but freely admits that he does not have any political experience. It also appears from tax records that he has not lived there for too long so it is hard to say what kind of draw he will have in this race.
Todd W. Reed (no web site found): Todd has been making the rounds. He has been seen at the Lanier Tea Party and other places. He is a resident of Oakwood and in the construction business. He is also running on the political outsider platform.
Todd has retained a political consultant and depending on his platform, may do well locking up the Oakwood vote.
William “Sonny” Sykes (No web site found): Sonny also has some history as he unsuccessfully ran for a judgeship back in 2008. He is an attorney in Gainesville and I had heard that he was gearing up for another run (this time for probate judge) in the summer. Perhaps this is a tune up or perhaps he is committed.
Overall, Sonny performed well in South Hall back in 2008. However, he lives in the same neighborhood as Bobby Banks (Royal Lakes) perhaps diluting some of the vote. The good news for Sonny, is that he may have a nice endorsement from South Hall. Rumor is that the Mayor of Flowery Branch, Mike Miller, is looking for anyone one to win that wont mess up the new maps. It appears that the Mayor may have his eyes set on the new open seat (H.D. 103).
Kris Yardley: Kris served on the City Council in Flowery Branch making him one of only 2 candidates with any political experience (Bobby Banks being the other). Kris has worked on numerous campaigns (Chairman of the McCain/Palin campaign for Hall County) and has been an active member of the Republican Party.
Kris is probably the most formidable opponent because he already has campaign connections in the most populated areas of the district. As a former council member of Flowery Branch, he also has a record to run on. He will do well in the Flowery Branch precincts as well as Deaton Creek.
There is almost no chance that anyone can collect the 50% plus 1 vote needed to win the election on November the 8th. So you need to figure on who will be in the top 2 and that will drive the eventual winner. Believe it or not, the Democrat, Paul Wayne Godfrey has the inside track for a top spot. In his campaign against Lutz, he collected 16.02% of the total vote. If it is true that some of those were Banks supporters, you have to think that he is good for 15%; considering that a Democrat took 15.92% against James Mills last election, that is probably a good number.
In the last election, this district had a large turnout (55%). However, this will be a special election, meaning that voter turnout will be a lot lower. If you consider the special election runoff between Tom Graves and Lee Hawkins last June as a good reference point, then you can expect the turnout to be around 15%. So the number to hit will be about 2,600 votes to win.
Here is the prediction:
Kris Yardley: 1400 votes
Bobby Banks: 1000 votes
Sonny Sikes 950 votes
Paul Wayne Godfrey: 780 votes
Todd Reed: 720 votes
Emory Dunahoo: 200 votes
Dominic Ottaviano: 150 votes
Kris Yardley defeats Bobby Banks in a runoff by 60% to 40% in December. Good luck to all.
Hugh Hall County Akston