You’ll recall when January’s surprise snowstorm hit, Ragsdale worked 36 hours in a row trying to ensure that all of the 80,000 students stranded on icy roads made it home as safely and soon as possible. That was a sharp contrast with his boss, Hinojosa, who headed for home in Smyrna not long after the flakes began to fall — and stayed there.
Unless Ragsdale unexpectedly self-destructs between now and May 2015, his selection as interim would seem to position him as the odds-on favorite to later be named as permanent.
HINOJOSA’S CONTRACT here ran through December, but he announced in February he wanted to go back to Texas. That announcement came as little surprise to most board-watchers, who knew he had never bought a house here and was commuting back to Dallas on a regular basis to see his wife. And he announced his departure with the memorable quote, “I think Mama is waiting for me with some tamales, so I will be very excited to have some good Mexican food for the rest of my life.”
Ragsdale’s promotion prompted one wag to note the new super was raised just over the line in Paulding County and his parents still live there, “So if Ragsdale starts wanting some home cooking back in Dallas, he won’t have far to go.”
THE BIG EVENT of the week in the much-watched race to succeed Phil Gingrey as 11th District Congressman representing most of Cobb was Tuesday’s Cobb Republican Women’s Club-sponsored forum at the County Administration Building. The tightly scripted format seems designed to ensure the candidates “play nice,” and are shown to their best advantage, and that’s what happened.
Former Congressman Bob Barr is the most experienced debater of the six candidates, and it showed in his forceful, almost angry delivery. Responding to a question from Rosan Hall about Obamacare, he responded, “That bill is 2,000 pages long and there’s not one good piece of anything in it. I say kill it, drive a stake through its heart, burn it and scatter the ashes!”
He also repeated, almost mantra-like throughout the evening, “I plan to work to shrink the size, the scope, the budget and the power of the federal government.”
Barr, who never smiled once, noted that during his 1990s stint in Congress that Republicans had “brought Bill Clinton to his knees on taxes and the budget and welfare reform. Now we’re saddled with Barack Obama, who’s like Bill Clinton on steroids.” He added that he knew how to do battle with “forces of evil” like Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid.
Speaking of Obamacare, candidate Allen Levene, a native of the U.K., pointed out he was the only one of the six who was raised under a National Health Care system, “and I know how bad it is. It must be stopped.”
FORMER state House Majority Whip Ed Lindsey of Buckhead, by contrast with Barr, was low-key, talking to the crowd as if he were sitting on your living room couch. He also took a sly dig at Barr’s well-known penchant for self-promotion, noting at one point that, “I’m not a rock-thrower or someone who steps in front of a camera at every opportunity.”
Candidate Tricia Pridemore of Marietta played up her lack of elective experience by pointing out “not all good ideas come from under a Dome. They also come from board rooms, cubicles and kitchen tables.”
Candidate Barry Loudermilk of Cassville drew approving murmurs from the crowd when the topic turned to national defense.
“We need to stop using the military as a social-engineering lab and put them back on the line defending our freedom,” the Air Force veteran said.
Candidate Larry Mrozinski, a retired Army colonel, chimed in that his son, an Army sergeant, recently complained, “‘We’re being taught more about political correctness than we are about survival skills.’”
Lindsey noted his son is about to graduate from West Point and said, “I don’t want him to have to go into a war that’s ‘a fair fight,’” arguing for increased Defense spending.
“Our friends don’t trust us and our enemies don’t fear us,” he added.
Pridemore echoed Ronald Reagan’s prescription of “peace through strength,” and said we should work to “stop the reformation of the USSR and the kowtowing to ‘Comrade Putin.’ We need tough sanctions against Russia.”
Barr reminded the crowd of a former president as well.
“Many of us lived through the debacle of the (Jimmy) Carter drawdown, which created a hollow military, and we’re still paying the price for what Carter visited on this country,” he said.
Obviously referring to Dobbins Air Reserve Base, he added the district “needs to be on guard against another BRAC cut, because it’s coming.”
U.S. SENATE candidate Jack Kingston of Savannah, who was endorsed Friday by Fox News TV host Sean Hannity, was at an Athens fundraiser Friday night at the home of legendary UGA Coach Vince Dooley and wife Barbara. He dropped by the MDJ late yesterday morning and was critical of Democratic frontrunner Michelle Nunn’s pose as a middle-of-the-road candidate.
“It’s remarkable that liberals never will run as a liberals,” Kingston told AT. “If you’ve spent a lifetime supporting liberal causes and candidates, why would you not embrace it and go and tell people that’s the best vision? Instead, the media is letting her give ambivalent answers and talk about ‘Let’s all get along.’
“I think the reality is that if Georgia votes for Michelle Nunn, it would be a continuation of Harry Reid’s and Obama’s policies, and Georgians have rejected those things. We need to have Harry Reid back in the minority.”
MORE POLITICS: The Cherokee County GOP breakfast today will feature Gov. Nathan Deal, Senate candidate Gingrey and Barr as guests. The 9 to 10 a.m. event will be at the Winchester Woodfire Grille in Canton. … Cherokee Sheriff Roger Garrison, state Rep. John Carson (R-northeast Cobb) and others will host a meet-and-greet for Ed Lindsey from 4 to 5:30 p.m. Sunday at The Magnolia Thomas Restaurant in Woodstock. ... Loudermilk will be guest speaker at the Monday lunch meeting of the Madison Forum in east Marietta. … Cobb Solicitor Barry Morgan will sponsor a “Taxes, Politics & BBQ” fundraiser from 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday at Jim Miller Park with entertainment by Bert Reeves and “The Goodbye Machine.”
DON’T MISS the two new exhibits that open tonight at the Marietta Cobb Museum of Art — especially the rarely displayed paintings by Wilbur G. Kurtz (1882-1967) of Marietta. That’s especially true if you have an interest in the Civil War or steam locomotives. Tonight’s bash runs from 6 to 8 p.m., says museum head Sally Macaulay.
PEOPLE: Marietta lawyer Nancy Ingram Jordan on Monday will join Warner, Bates, McGough, McGinnis & Portnoy, one of Atlanta’s foremost family law firms. Jordan, daughter of Cobb Senior Judge Conley Ingram, had been with Gregory, Doyle, Calhoun & Rogers. ... Former Commissioner Butch Thompson turns 70 today. Asked if his family was planning a party, he answered, “Boy, I hope not!”