Published Wednesday, February 20, 2013
By W. WINSTON SKINNER
Cynthia Bennett didn’t win the House District 71 race, but her showing did give local Democrats some energy.
Four decades ago, Coweta County – like most of the American South – was almost entirely Democratic. Most, if not all, of the local and regional elected officials were Democrats.
That situation changed dramatically in the intervening years. Today, the only elected official in Coweta County who ran for office as a Democrat is Al Smith, a county commissioner. His district, centered on the City of Newnan’s downtown area, has the strongest concentration of Democratic voters in the county.
State Rep. Billy Horne decided not to seek re-election to his District 71 seat last year. Longtime State Court Solicitor Robert Stokely won the primary election and had no general election opposition. When Stokely decided to become a magistrate court instead, the seat was open again with just a few weeks for candidates to organize and campaign.
Bennett was among those who ran for the seat. The top vote-getters in the Feb. 5 election were David Stover and Tom Crymes, both Republicans.
They will be on the ballot for the March 5 runoff.
Bennett, the lone Democrat on the ballot, was congratulated by members of the Coweta County Democratic Committee at their monthly meeting on Feb. 6. Out of the 2,732 votes cast, Bennett’s campaign efforts put her only 89 votes short of a second place finish.
Bennett finished first in one precinct and second in five precincts.
Democratic committee members said while they are disappointed Bennett was not elected, they are encouraged with the positive response her candidacy received from district voters. “It proves the Democratic Party can produce highly qualified, electable candidates,” said George Johnson, the county party chairman.
He noted Bennett is an economics teacher at East Coweta High School and said she had “unique qualifications” which “put her in a position to be an advocate for education, women, families, the middle class, the working class and the working poor.”
Bennett has not endorsed Crymes or Stover.
At the recent meeting, held at the Democratic Party Headquarters on Madison Street, Bennett encouraged her supporters to vote in the upcoming runoff.
She said she hopes voters will make themselves knowledgeable of the candidates and their policies and vote for the one who best exemplifies moderation and concern for a growing district.
Bennett spoke at the Third Congressional District meeting of of the Democratic Party of Georgia at Maguire’s in Senoia on Jan. 28. Johnson is chair of that group, which includes Democrats in 13 counties. Party members from Coweta, Upson, Pike, Lamar, Fayette, Troup, Rockdale and Harris counties were present.
During the meeting, Bennett spoke about her background and campaign.