“She has found it necessary to include a Republican party elephant on her campaign signs,” said county Republican party Chairman Benjamin Harrison. “Let me make this clear: the Republican Party does not endorse Anita Gilbert for Lewis County judge-executive, does not advocate for Mrs. Gilbert’s election, nor has Mrs. Gilbert sought permission from the Republican Party to use our logo. There was no notice she was going to do this. It just appeared on her signs. On the contrary, the Lewis County Republican Party is 100 percent behind our nominee for Lewis County judge-executive, Thomas Massie.”
Sure enough, right there at the top, on either side of Gilbert’s campaign posters, is the elephant.
“Thankfully,” Harrison said, “most of the signs in Lewis County are for Republican candidates — a clear indication that people are fed up with the way Democrats are running...this commonwealth.”
In Georgia, there’s a Democratic candidate for governor who is actually being sued by the Republican National Committee for using the Republican elephant on his web site, Harrison said.
Lewis County is heavily Republican. According to recent figures provided by the county clerk’s office, the count shows Lewis County has 7,046 Republican voters registered as opposed to 2,294 registered as Democrats.
“A lot of people here in the county who are Democratic-minded are registered Republican so they can vote in the primaries. Lewis County has been Republican for years, and you really can’t have a say in local elections unless you’re registered Republican. Our elections come in the primaries.”
Steve Applegate, the two-term incumbent Massie beat in the May primary, said Gilbert’s ads indicate she’s running on a theme of people voting for the person, not the party, and for Democrats and Republicans to work together for the good of the county.
“What I think about Anita is that she realizes in order for her to win in a Republican county she will have to have quite a bit of the Republican vote,” he said.
“Usually they like to run with their own party,” Harrison said. “I think she is trying to take advantage of the fact that the wind is at the backs of the Republican party right now.”
Neither Gilbert nor Massie could be reached for comment as this story was being written. This is the first time either have run for public office.
Harrison said Massie is a sort of jack-of-all-trades — inventor, farmer.
“He’s a rock-solid conservative, attended MIT, in his mid-30s, and very intelligent,” he said.
Applegate said his defeat in the primary by a pretty wide margin was his own fault.
“I didn’t make up my mind to seek reelection until late, and I didn’t work at it,” he said. “But I have no problem whatsoever of leaving office. I have enjoyed my time as county judge, and I’ll just go back to running my grocery store, which I’ve done for 26 years.”
He said he was satisfied with the accomplishments made by his administration during his eight years in the position.
“We have replaced every wooden bridge in the county except two, and they are under contract to do; got millions of dollars worth of blacktop; built a new animal shelter and a new 911 center; remodeled the courthouse and built a new health department,” he said.
“The position of judge-executive, he said, “pays in the high 60s to start and progresses upward. Plus the state sends a little expense check, but there’s not a whole lot of expense to it.”
G. SAM PIATT can be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 236.