Endorsements: State Senate Districts 18 and 26

State Senate District 18

What has turned into a very contentious race between political newcomer Dr. Spencer Price and state Sen. Cecil Staton is continuing to draw headlines for the Republican primary. What we have here are two highly educated men going at it. However, there are differences between the two men.

Their life experiences are very, very different. Staton is an Oxford-trained academic and business owner. Price is a physician who has served his country through two tours of duty in the war zones of Iraq and Afghanistan.

He has remained close to his small-town roots by practicing medicine in the rural areas of Georgia as promised while a medical student. He practices in Thomaston.

Staton must be given credit for the work he has done since being elected. He worked hard to save the Georgia Music Hall of Fame. While he was able to pull off a brilliant maneuver to steer the use of some hotel motel tax money for the music hall, the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame and the Douglass Theatre, but in the end, his clout as majority whip was not enough. The museums were abandoned by his Republican colleagues. The music hall closed and its contents scattered all over the state and the Sports Hall of Fame taken over -- after a long arduous process -- by local people.

Staton’s experiences, when compared to Price’s, pale in the comparison. Much has been said -- or exposed -- about Price’s financial difficulties. That only adds to his aura. His son was born with serious health issues that eventually took his young life. Anyone who understands the health care system understands how quickly one can get underwater. Add to that was his obligation to the Georgia Army National Guard that sent him on two overseas tours. National service and practicing rural medicine rather than urban does not enhance one’s income potential. Still, he’s on a payment plan to settle his tax debts.

If we have a concern about Price, it is that he is to the right of Kim Jung Il when it comes to certain issues. He’s drawn the endorsement of former presidential candidate Herman Cain and Georgia Right to Life because of his staunch conservatism.

He is consistent. He is against abortion without the caveats of “in the case of rape or incest” provisions, and he supports the ethical treatment of embryos.

While there are many things we find issue with Spencer, Staton has shown his disdain for public education by supporting the constitutional amendment that will allow the state to circumvent local control over charter schools, and there is an area of conflict between his committee assignments and his business of publishing and broadcast stations.

A big brouhaha emerged after Georgia Southern University canceled his contract to broadcast the school’s football games for nonpayment of more than $50,000. Staton has also been part of the palace coup that stripped much of the powers of the office from Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, subverting the will of the people who voted for Cagle, and there is the unfortunate Beth Merkelson incident that still has not been adequately explained.

While we take issue with many of Spencer’s ultra-conservative stances, we think him a better fit than Staton. If voters want a true conservative, Spencer would be their man. We endorse Dr. Spencer Price.

Candidates interviewed by: Bob Berlin, Damon King, Leroy Mack, Gile O’Neal, John Planchon, Gene Strauss, George McCanless, Sherrie Marshall, Charles E. Richardson

State Senate District 26

This race features a rematch between former state Rep. David Lucas and state Sen. Miriam Paris who bested him last year in an August runoff after Lucas stepped down from the seat he held for almost four decades to seek the Senate seat held by the late Robert Brown. Brown decided to run for Macon’s mayor and was unsuccessful. There is a third candidate in this Democratic Primary, Irving Martinez, but for all intent, this is a two-person race. Martinez’s interests are centered on Macon -- downtown Macon to be more specific. He had no ideas for the other areas of the district that spans Twiggs, Wilkinson and parts of Bibb and Houston counties. He’s a likable fellow, but this race is not the one he should have entered.

There is little doubt Lucas has the edge on experience. While Democrats controlled the legislative process, Lucas was able to bring home the bacon for his district. However, now that Republicans control all legs of the state’s three-legged stool, another tack may be more effective.

Paris has served one session but can already point to success at reaching across the aisle to get things accomplished. She had the power -- and some would say she should have used it -- to stop the consolidation bill. In our opinion, that would have been a mistake. Consolidation is the biggest issue facing voters of Macon and Bibb County in memory.

Lucas has hammered her about reapportionment maps, and Paris admitted that she may have not understood the deviousness of politicians when it comes to ensuring their party’s continued dominance. She has learned her lesson. Paris is a staunch supporter of public education and voted against the amendment to give state control over the charter school process.

Paris has demonstrated with her work, first on City Council and now in the Senate that she can work with just about anyone. And she has one talent that is often overlooked in a lawmaker. She’s a good listener and not prone to gross exaggerations that usually fill the political atmosphere.

The question voters have to ask in this race is simple: Do we want to remained mired in the politics of party and race, or do we want to move forward. Paris is a quick learner. Our panel voted to move forward.

We endorse Miriam Paris.

Candidates interviewed by: Charles Bass, Bob Berlin, Gigi Cabell, Mary Lou Ezell, Sarah Gordon, Leroy Mack, Jon Merrill, Don McGouirk, Violet Poe, Gene Strauss, Betty Bond-Toussaint, George McCanless, Sherrie Marshall, Charles E. Richardson