In less than two months, voters in Georgia will be able to take part in the state’s presidential primaries.

On the Democratic side, there are still 12 candidates in the race, a big decrease from a few months ago when the number reached a mind-boggling height of almost 30.

The first contest for 2020 is Iowa, as has been the case every four years for generations. The Iowa caucus will be Monday, Feb. 3.

By the time the race reaches Georgia, there will all but certainly be fewer than 12 Democratic candidates. For those not keeping up, the Democrats still in the race include former Vice President Joe Biden, former New York City mayor Mike Bloomberg; Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet; South Bend, Ind. mayor Pete Buttigieg; former Maryland Congressman John Delaney; Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard; Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar; former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders; hedge fund manager Tom Steyer; Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and New York entrepreneur Andrew Yang.

If you watch any amount of television at all, you no doubt have seen the ads for Bloomberg. They often air twice in one commercial break. While it is admirable that Bloomberg has limitless personal funds for this much advertising, the sheer number of them are no doubt causing voter fatigue, even by those who may support him.

Steyer is also self-financing his campaign, and his millions upon millions in personal wealth have allowed him to buy plenty of airtime. Steyer was actually running national commercials even before entering the race, calling on Americans to support an impeachment of President Trump.

Typically a presidential election would be dominating the cable news shows at this point, but most seem obsessed with the impeachment proceedings which anyone with any ounce of common sense knows is not going to end up going any other way.

Georgia Republican voters will not have much choice on their presidential primary ballot. The state GOP has decided that following the example of communist and dictatorship countries is a good thing and will allow just one name on the March 24 ballot (President Trump.)

One Republican voter told me it was a good thing because it would save Georgia taxpayers money. That claim is actually false as there will still be a Republican presidential primary but there will be only one name listed. That is not saving a dime and only goes to show that state GOP officials believe returning to our pre-freedom days of being ruled by a king is a good idea.

The early states of Iowa and New Hampshire (among others) are having contested Republican primaries. Georgia is actually being sued over the GOP policy of exclusion but the case won’t be settled before voters in our state go to the polls.

It’s ironic because the Republican Party claims to be for freedom and competition in all areas. It seems those notions don’t apply to GOP primaries in Georgia, however.

For those who claim that they no other candidates “met the criteria” for being on the Georgia GOP presidential ballot, that claim is also false. The rules are purely subjective. The state GOP simply decides who will be on the ballot. Members are the judge and jury.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld, one candidate challenging President Trump in the GOP primary, has been polling from 9 percent to the high teens and even low 20s in New Hampshire. To show the uphill challenge Weld faces, he even had to threaten legal action in Massachusetts to be on the Republican presidential ballot. This despite the fact Weld is a two-term Republican governor there.

Weld, along with former Illinois Republican Congressman Joe Walsh, will be on the GOP ballots in other states such as California, Vermont and Colorado. Party leaders in South Carolina, however, are denying voters in its state a chance for a primary in 2020. This was one of the reasons former South Carolina governor Mark Sanford dropped out of the race. Despite it being his home state where he had won statewide elections, Sanford could not even get on the ballot.

In case you were wondering, write-in votes are not allowed in primaries so in Georgia and some other states, it’s Donald Trump or nothing if you take a GOP ballot. For some reason the old adage of “it’s not who gets the most votes but who counts the votes” comes to mind. That along with “you can’t lose if party leaders don’t allow open elections.” Let freedom ring.

Winder resident Chris Bridges is a former editor for the Barrow News-Journal. You can email comments about this column to pchrisbridges@gmail.com.

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