Political notebook: Finding the real Steve Smith

November 22, 2013 

A Twitter user named RepStevenSmith, representing Georgia’s 14th Congressional District from his home in Valdosta, was recently making some waves online.

Except Smith doesn’t exist. Neither does the 14th Congressional District. The fake Smith -- who was highlighted in a recent Atlanta Journal-Constitution blog post -- isn’t to be confused with the real Steve Smith, formerly of Valdosta, who is leading the Bibb County school system. The real Steve Smith denies any connection to the fake Steve Smith.

The fake Smith account has a picture of an older white guy in a suit, an image that also appears on the blog of a New Hampshire clothing store named George’s Apparel, a Telegraph reporter discovered.

The account had about 4,500 followers and featured tweets such as, “We offer good incentives like Ted Nugent concerts. The Democrats offer homeless people cigarettes.” The fake account also endorsed Rob Ford for prime minister of Canada, declaring that the crack-smoking Toronto mayor “is a proven and tested leader.”

Same name, different situation

In one of the most creative riding-the-coattail efforts in recent memory, attorney John F. Kennedy announced his bid for the state Senate District 18 seat on the eve of the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

The local Kennedy is running as a conservative Republican, challenging state Sen. Cecil Staton.

He is managing partner at the Macon-based James-Bates-Brannan-Groover law firm and holds both an economics degree and a law degree from Mercer University.

The district includes Crawford, Monroe, Peach and Upson counties, and parts of Bibb and Houston counties.

Kennedy said in his announcement that he is running “because our Middle Georgia families need honest, hardworking leadership in the State Senate.”

Staton, a Macon Republican, faced a primary challenge last year from Spencer Price, a Thomaston doctor. Staton defeated price by 203 votes, carrying 50.49 percent of the Republican tally.

Bad time to ask?

Bibb County Animal Welfare Director Sarah Tenon is proud to let people know her nephew is Auburn University quarterback Nick Marshall.

Tenon met with commissioners Tuesday to secure four new staff members and two new vehicles for her department, though the timing might not have been favorable. Just a few days earlier, Marshall led Auburn to a comeback 43-38 victory over the University of Georgia, thanks to a late 73-yard touchdown pass that broke the hearts of Bulldogs fans. Marshall transferred to Auburn after he was dismissed from Georgia.

Commissioner Joe Allen told Tenon he was impressed by the connection, but Commissioner Gary Bechtel was still feeling the sting from Georgia’s loss.

“I’m not sure I’m going to be voting in favor of anything,” he jokingly told Tenon.

In the end, all of Tenon’s requests were approved unanimously.

Maybe five is enough

A Telegraph story this week quoted Michael Ryan as saying he’d bicycled on every continent except Antarctica, and that he found Macon to be the least safe place for pedestrians and bicyclists alike.

Ryan wrote The Telegraph later to say he’d misspoken.

“I have never bicycled in Australia, though I hope to before I’m dead,” Ryan wrote.

Political Notebook columnists would like to wish Mr. Ryan safe travels, but they urge him to avoid mentioning both death and Australia in the same sentence. Australia has some ridiculously unfriendly animals, such as the inland taipan, a snake so venomous that a single bite would have enough venom to kill several people. Then there are deadly but innocent-sounding animals such as the Sydney funnel-web spider and the box jellyfish.

Traffic could be the least of his worries.

Griffin honored by school

Floyd Griffin, the first African-American to be elected to the Georgia Senate from a rural, majority-white legislative district since Reconstruction, has been inducted into the Winston-Salem State University “Big-House” Gaines Athletic Hall of Fame.

Griffin also served as mayor of Milledgeville from 2001 to to 2005. He now runs Slater Funeral Home and finished his autobiography, “Legacy to Legend -- Winners Make it Happen.”

At Winston-Salem, Griffin taught military science and was the offensive backfield coach for a football team that won back-to-back championships. He also coached Timmy Newsome, who went on to play for the Dallas Cowboys.

Griffin was inducted with members of the 1977 CIAA football team. They were recognized at a football game Nov. 9.

Governor makes appointments

Gov. Nathan Deal reappointed Thomas C. Bobbittt III, chief magistrate of Laurens County for the past 17 years, to the Board of Commissioners of the Magistrates Retirement Fund of Georgia.

Bobbit, a Dublin resident with a University of Georgia bachelor’s degree and a Mercer University law degree, also serves on the board of directors of Community in Schools of Laurens County, the Central Georgia Council of the Boy Scouts of America and the Institute of the Continuing Judicial Education of Georgia.

Separately, Braxton T. Cotton had been appointed earlier this month by Deal to the State Board of Pardons and Paroles. Cotton now lives in Atlanta, but also worked as a deputy and detective in the Baldwin County Sheriff’s Department, where he won the 2004 Officer of the Year award. He also has led the Governor’s Office of Transition, Support and Reentry and the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council, and has served with the Georgia State Patrol and the U.S. Army.

Writers Phillip Ramati and Mike Stucka contributed to this report.

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