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Knowshon for chairman?: UGA running back just one of many McDuffie write-in

He's a candidate for college football's most prestigious honor, the Heisman Trophy. Last week, he was named the Southeastern Conference's leading rusher. And if a career in football doesn't work out, he's talked about acting.

So when the University of Georgia's tailback from New Jersey, Knowshon Moreno, heard that he was a write-in candidate on the ballot for McDuffie County commission chairman, he laughed.

"I'm honored to hear about this nomination," Mr. Moreno said. "And I actually think it's kind of funny. I haven't had many thoughts about running for public office."

In fact, his thoughts have been about sealing an eighth Bulldog victory against the Yellow Jackets for the season finale on Saturday (Nov. 29).

"We've really just been concentrating on Georgia Tech and finishing my semester at school," he said.

Of the approximately 9,000 votes cast in each race on the General Election ballot three weeks ago in McDuffie County, 539 were write-ins. As the counts were tallied at the elections office after the polls were closed, Elections Director Phyllis Wheeler read the names, which brought laughter from those within hearing range.

There were quite a few of the usual cartoon characters - Mickey Mouse, Scooby Doo, Snoopy and Donald Duck. Elmer Fudd was even listed to give Mr. Moreno some competition for the commission chairman seat.

"Mostly it's been Mickey Mouse, you know, or other cartoon characters," Ms. Wheeler said. "And every so often, someone will write in some persons' name, but I don't know that there's been one to really stand out in my memory. I've seen so many, there's nothing that can surprise me."

Of all the races on the ballot, the county commission chairman's and the county sheriff's received the most write-in's. The sheriff's race's only candidate was incumbent Logan Marshall. The 78 write-ins for sheriff included the names of local deputies and city police officers, as well as classic television lawmen Andy Griffith and Barney Fife. But Mayberry's "Otis" needn't pack his bags and move, because Sheriff Marshall received 8081 votes to keep his position.

And 73 other names shared the write-in spot for the uncontested county commission chairman's race, including current county commissioners, Sheriff Marshall, school board candidates and Briarpatch owner Johnette Bell, who openly opposed the plans to build the sales tax-funded new government complex. When incumbent Charlie Newton, who was reelected with 7,046 votes, heard that the UGA football star was considered by one voter for his seat, he had the same response of laughter as Mr. Moreno.

"I'll be glad to run his campaign for him," Mr. Newton said. "He needs a dose of true hardship on his way to the NFL, and this would teach him to suffer through hard times."

The state senate race from the 24th district didn't have as many write-ins, but the variety was much broader. Incumbent Bill Jackson received 6,965 votes, along with 39 write-ins which included Jesus Christ, Joe Blow, James Brown, Santa and Daphanie Kinlow - who serves as the McDuffie County School System Payroll Manager.

"I can assure you, I was not running for election," Ms. Kinlow said with a laugh. "No, I'm quite happy where I am. Politics are too cut-throat for me. I don't have a clue (who wrote me in), but it is probably is equally as funny to them as it is to me."

Entertainment fans added their favorites to the lists on the local ballot, with Willie Nelson written in for U.S. House of Representatives, and Denzel Washington making the state Court of Appeals race in Charles Mikell's spot.

And four local voters refused to give up and wrote in Hillary Clinton for president. Political and news satire comedian Steven Colbert also received a local vote for president.

According to the Georgia state elections office, only write-in votes cast for candidates who have given proper notice of intent to be write-in candidates shall be computed. Which means all those votes were wasted ink. Even the frugal voter who just put "X" for the county commission chairman.



Web posted on Thursday, November 27, 2008













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