Sam Hensley, Jr., a scion of Old Marietta royalty, has announced he is a candidate for the 34th House District seat being vacated by Republican Rep. Bert Reeves. Reeves is leaving the Legislature to become vice president for institute relations at his alma mater, Georgia Tech.
Hensley says he is a “moderate Democrat” which in Cobb County these days is an oxymoron, like jumbo shrimp or civil war.
The man comes from good stock. His father, Sam, Sr., was one of our town’s leading citizens. An outstanding athlete at Marietta High School, he was co-captain of Georgia Tech’s 1952 national championship football team and an All-American. Hensley, Sr. later served in both Houses of the Legislature. An engineer by trade, Hensley and Cobb County Chairman Ernest Barrett were two of the major players in the prescient decision to develop and expand Cobb County’s infrastructure just as the county was beginning to grow.
It was that kind of forward-thinking that attracted a lot of people to the county from other parts of the country so they could tell us what a bunch of Hooterville bumpkins we are.
For example, Cobb Democratic Chair Jacquelyn Bettadapur claims Cobb County was “born of white flight out of the 70’s and 80’s.” She should know. Bettadapur is whiter than a bag of Gold Medal flour and flew into Cobb from Minnesota or Wisconsin or one of those places where it snows 10 months a year. How have we managed to survive this long without the benefit of her first-hand knowledge?
Once upon a time, Cobb County had a bunch of moderate Democrats who helped make this a great place to live and work while Bettadapur was somewhere else shoveling snow. Along with Sam Hensley, Sr. and Ernest Barrett, there were folks like former Gov. Roy Barnes and Cong. Buddy Darden, Al Burruss, the influential majority leader of the state House of Representatives and Cobb legislator and long-time Marietta Mayor Joe Mack Wilson to name a few.
That list has dwindled. State Reps. Erick Allen, who has announced he is running for lieutenant governor, and Mary Frances Williams, daughter of the late mayor of Marietta, Howard “Red” Atherton, who himself did good things for the community, come to mind.
Today, when we think of Democrats, it is difficult if not impossible to associate many of them with the term “moderate.” Certainly not the Three Amigos: Jaha Howard, Charisse Davis and Tre (Love Me Tender) Hutchins III, of the Cobb County Board of Education, who have the historical perspective of a hula hoop.
They seem intent on tearing down all the good things good people have done in Cobb County, such as their call for an audit of an excellent school system simply because they are too politically-inept and race-obsessed to attempt to work with their colleagues on the board.
Is it possible for a moderate Democrat-slash-white guy to get elected to public office in today’s Cobb County? We will know shortly. Gov. Brian Kemp has set June 15 for a special election to replace Bert Reeves, (Assuming, of course, that Donald Trump doesn’t get his shorts in a wad over the governor making such a momentous decision without consulting him.) Early voting begins on May 24 and a likely runoff is set for July 13.
The process is known colloquially as a jungle primary. All the candidates run against each other at once, no matter their party affiliation. Whoever gets the most votes wins.
So far, the only other Democrat to announce for the District 34 seat besides Hensley is immoderate Priscilla Smith, who lost to Reeves last year and whose claim to fame is wearing a tiara and a banner proclaiming her “Miss Sh*thole Country” (The asterisk is mine.) and publishing a photo of herself with nothing on but a coat barely covering her bare bazooms and a tie covering little else. Oh, and she forgot she didn’t live in the district in which she was running. Those darn Democrats! What a wild and crazy bunch of persons!
Two Republicans have announced plans to run for Reeves’ seat: Devan Seabaugh, vice president of administration for Metro Atlanta Ambulance, and Kennesaw Councilman David Blinkhorn, a warehouse manager and buyer for Kennesaw State University. There is concern that Republicans in Marietta will throw their support to Seabaugh and Kennesaw-area Republicans to Blinkhorn with the result that neither will get enough votes to make the runoff and then Democrats will get the seat, whether it be Hensley or Clarabelle the Clown.
In the meantime, it will be interesting to see if in his campaign for House District 34, Sam Hensley, Jr. toes the Democrat Party line that Cobb County is populated by a bunch of biased rednecks in need of racial cleansing or admits that the current crowd of carpetbaggers and race baiters are not worthy to carry his father Sam Hensley, Sr.’s football cleats, slide rule or his legacy. Stay tuned.