Lee, Byrne in runoff to decide chairman
by Jon Gillooly
August 21, 2012 12:18 AM | 4816 views | 8 8 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print
MARIETTA — Without a Democrat in the race, Republicans who vote in today’s run off election will decide the next chairman of the Cobb Board of Commissioners.

“In some ways it’s a battle of old Cobb versus new Cobb,” said Kennesaw State University political science professor Kerwin Swint, who specializes in campaigns and elections.

“I know Bill Byrne has friends in Cobb County, and I think he’s depending on people he and his wife know getting out the troops, and where Tim Lee is concerned, I think it’s a matter of using his financial edge to make phone calls, beat the bushes and get his voters to come back out for him again.”

Byrne said Monday that TSPLOST supporters were punishing him for opposing the transportation tax by sending out robocalls that trashed him and favored his opponent, Tim Lee.

“It’s punishment for my active campaign to defeat the state TSPLOST,” Byrne said.

Jim Galloway reports in his “Political Insider” column that his Kennesaw answering machine received a message attacking Byrne over a Bedminster recycling facility he promoted in the 1990s. Galloway reports that the message was paid for by a group called Cobb 2012 and that one of its funders is United Distributors, Inc., in Smyrna, whose CEO, Doug Hertz, was a TSPLOST proponent.

Lee distanced himself from the robocalls.

“My campaign has done no negative campaign robocalls this week at all. None,” Lee said.

Lee is factually correct, Byrne acknowledged.

“But he does know they’re going out, and he has told the folks ‘go do it,’ and I brought this up in one of our forums about these robocalls, and depending on which one you get they’re pretty nasty stuff,” Byrne said.

The Journal contacted Hertz’s office to ask if he is indeed punishing Byrne for opposing the TSPLOST.

Hertz emailed back, writing, “I do not know Mr. Byrne and don’t recall ever meeting him, but I do know Tim Lee and like and admire him very much. It is my opinion that he is the type of courageous, visionary leader that we need in Cobb County to keep moving us forward. I am proud to support him.”

Byrne said it’s just more of the same special interests from the Cobb and Metro Atlanta chambers of commerce to the county’s two CIDs that supported the TSPLOST.

“With the defeat of the TSPLOST they are terrified that they would have to deal with me because HB 277, which creates the TSPLOST mandates that Plan B come back to the voters in two years, and that the players have to come back to the roundtable to come up with a new project list,” Byrne said. “The last person they want to see come to the Atlanta Regional Commission is Bill Byrne. My viewpoints are diametrically opposed to theirs, and I won’t sign off on anything they want to do, and without Cobb County within the ARC, the City of Atlanta passionately believes the other counties, now that the TSPLOST has been unanimously defeated, will follow my lead. And that terrifies them. Their campaign contributions to Tim Lee aren’t to support Tim Lee. They’re to oppose me.”

Voters are invited to watch the returns with either candidate this evening.

Lee said he will be hosting his forum at the Embassy Suites in Kennesaw beginning at 7 p.m.

“It’s open to anyone who wants to come, black tie or not,” Lee said.

Lee said he was spending Monday continuing to call people on his voter list, asking them to turn out today and vote for him.

“In general, it’s been positive. They like the personal touch,” Lee said of the response he’s received from the phone calls.

Lee said he is expecting to win tonight.

Byrne said he will be at the Marietta Conference Center at 6 p.m. but expects people to start dropping by after 7 p.m. to watch the results, which he believes will be decided by about 10 p.m.

“I can’t remember the last time in my life I’ve been this tired and this excited about the opportunities ahead for us only because of the manner in which this campaign unfolded,” Byrne said. “A long time ago I learned if a candidate cannot campaign on his track record and just starts throwing crap against the wall hoping some of it sticks, they’re in serious trouble. We’ve campaigned exclusively on the issues. I’ve gone after Tim pretty aggressively, but not as a person, but on the policies, philosophies and voting record that he’s had for the last two years. We have been competitive in our advertising and getting our message out after being outspent 7 to 1, and I sincerely believe if 10 percent of the voters turn out tomorrow that we’re going to prevail. I think it’s going to be close, but I think we’re going to prevail.”

Yet Swint said Byrne has an uphill battle.

“If I had to bet I’d bet Lee is probably going to pull it out, but you can never be too sure,” Swint said. “Incumbents are tough to unseat unless you have a financial advantage, unless you have a turnout advantage of something going for you, incumbents are hard to beat. They have the name ID advantage. They have the financial advantage usually. Voters want a good reason to oust an incumbent normally. And so just in general they’re hard to beat, but with Lee’s baggage this year and with Bill Byrne’s foothold in the county, he was the incumbent, things can happen. Who knows?”

While Lee has the financial edge, Byrne successfully aligned his campaign with the anti-TSPLOST movement which saw a majority of voters reject the TSPLOST in the July 31 primary.

“Not having TSPLOST on the ballot could be a huge drop in those folks coming to vote, so that is a potential problem for Byrne if those anti-TSPLOST people don’t come back in significant numbers,” Swint said.

Polls will be open today from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

For more information, call the Cobb County Board of Elections & Registration at 770-528-2581.

Who will you vote for for Cobb County Chairman?

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August 21, 2012

Could not wait to cast my vote to Tim Lee because he is the only candidate who has never waivered in his support, love and dedication to the County he has and still seeks to serve. I can't say the same for Bill Byrne. He seems very angry in his approach and not a team player. We have big issues that need solving and we need all hands on deck working together to solve them. It takes a special leader to bring everyone to the table and work towards the right solutions. Tim Lee is the right person to lead our county.
August 21, 2012
Sounds like you have been drinking copius amounts of the Lee Tea.

August 21, 2012
I voted early and for Bill Byrne or actually AGAiNST Tim Lee.

He has been a disaster for the county.

But when all is said and done I think Lee will unfortunately win.

That means that the special interests will be running the county for the next four years not the citizens.

August 21, 2012
The tax rolls have been plummeting for the last 4 years thanks to a poor economy.

Tim Lee had nothing to d with people losing their jobs and having their houses foreclosed on.

But people like "From Texas" want all the County services but no tax increases. You either step up and pay or your services get cut. Its a simple issue.

These people are bitching about a little tax increase to keep the County running by employees who have not seen a raise in 5 years but have had to pay more for their insurance benefits, not to mention the increased cost of gas, food and medicines.

Quit whining or move back to where you came from and leave us in peace!
August 21, 2012
Cobb does not have a spending problem. Have you actually looked at the budget?! Cobb has an income problem and with foreclosures down 25% is a dent to solving that problem. You want to scream and hollor cut cut cut and when Tim tried to cut - all came out screaming we cant cut back - we have to have all 17 libraries open. But lets cut back hours on all employees. You want the same service but not to pay for them. Really? Ask any employee of Cobb County if they are giving their 100% back to their employer this year?? At least Tim looks for solutions with no help from the rest of that mess of a board.
Cobb Budget
August 21, 2012
Dustoff and Go Back have it right. Those who have truly paid attention to the facts understand Chairman Lee has done a wonderful job keeping our services high and our taxes lower than any other metro county. We absolutely must keep him at the top. Vote LEE today!
August 21, 2012
Now Timmy calls my house and humbly asks for my vote he didn’t listen to us on the SPLOST the property tax increase or the TSPLOST. I voted early for Bill Byrne that’s for sure I’m surprised Timmy didn’t have MAVEN and Kasim Reed running ads’ for Timmy Lee. Let’s hope we can get rid of the chamber water boy if he gets back in office look for your tax rolls to plummet in Cobb County.


August 21, 2012
Yes, Bill Byrne is my choice as well. Tim Lee has run an Obama Chicago thug political campaign that has been nothing but negative...He will not mention his own record of raising property taxes during a recession and aligning himself with the Chamber of Commerce and TSPLOST against the voters of Cobb. For those of you that think we must raise taxes to fill all of your wants and needs for services, then join the RINO club. Some of us are self-sufficient and don't expect others to pay for our perks. I was glad to see Byrne supporters this morning waving signs at Merchants Walk.
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