Despite what you might have thought … House District 157 election is actually over

Mickey Peace

If you think the Republican primary for the selection of a candidate to serve the 157th Georgia House District was over when Rep. William A. ‘Bill’ Werkheiser soundly defeated challenger Delvis Dutton last May, you might take a step back and consider the story published recently on Mr. Dutton’s website – a venture in which he has at least partial ownership, which is claimed to bring “…a new avenue of transparency to areas that have previously not had access.”

I don’t know for certain if the piece was intended to be ‘news’ or ‘opinion’, as it contained a combination of both. However, in the interest of transparency, please consider the additional information presented here that sheds more light on the subject.

Here’s the big scoop that appeared on Mr. Dutton’s Internet outlet: “Werkheiser and Friends Spent $100k to Win House Primary, 90% From Out of District.” (Actually, of $121,000 collected, the Werkheiser campaign spent $78,000.) The filing of required campaign finance disclosure forms at the end of June apparently prompted this bit of ‘news’.

At first glance, one could interpret the headline to suggest or insinuate that ‘Werkheiser and Friends’ did something unethical or even illegal. They did not. True, the candidate received 90 percent of his contributions from outside the 157th House District, which includes Evans, Tattnall, and Wayne counties. However, that’s not exactly headline news and it’s nothing to blog about.

Many of those ‘outside’ donors to the Werkheiser campaign are made up of attorneys and Georgia legislators. That speaks to Bill Werkheiser’s popularity with his colleagues in the Legislature, and it says a lot about why so many attorneys rallied behind his re-election. No doubt Blake Tillery, the Georgia senator from the 19th District, could shed considerable light on Werkheiser’s standing with attorneys and legislators within House District 157 and others from across the State. Sen. Tillery could likely explain one or more reasons for Dutton’s lack of support among the same groups.

The more telling information about Rep. Werkheiser’s and Mr. Dutton’s campaign finance reports is among the figures that were not presented on the website.

I can assume, since this is an opinion column, that the filing of the campaign reports must have posed a terrible embarrassment for the losing candidate. While the remnants of the Dutton campaign have apparently tried to use the financial reports to portray Rep. Werkheiser in a questionable light, it seems only right (due to transparency) to take a closer look at both candidates’ filings.

Mickey Peace, Publisher – mpeace @claxtonenterprise.com

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