When Georgia attorney general candidate Ken Hodges comes to Columbus, he wants to talk about his qualifications for the office he is seeking in this summer’s Democratic primary.
That was the case Tuesday when Columbus was part of a three-city kickoff tour for the former Doughterty County district attorney. But instead of talking about the “10,000 criminal convictions under his belt,” the topic turned to one he didn’t get as a special prosecutor almost six years ago.
Hodges was the special prosecutor who presented the Kenneth Walker case in November 2004 to a Muscogee County grand jury, which did not indict former deputy sheriff David Glisson for his role in Walker’s 2003 shooting death. Glisson shot Walker during a traffic stop related to a drug investigation. Walker was unarmed at the time of the shooting and no drugs were found in the vehicle.
Glisson is white and Walker is black, and the case caused a racial division in the community.
Hodges held his news conference in plaza of the Government Center, the same building he presented his case to the grand jury. As Hodges talked, about 20 supporters listened. In the back of the room were Georgia NAACP President Edward DuBose and other local civil rights leaders, who took the podium before Hodges reached the elevator.
DuBose said Hodges had “returned to the scene of the crime.”
The NAACP plans to be present “every single time,” Hodges holds a public event in Columbus.
“That’s fine,” Hodges said. “This is a democracy.”
DuBose made it clear what he thinks of Hodges.
“We see Ken Hodges as one of those people with the blood of Kenneth Walker on his hands,” DuBose said.
During the news conference, Hodges had about 19 supporters standing behind him as he touted his accomplishments as “a prosecutor and not a politician.” Nine of supporters were black, most of them from Albany, Hodges’ hometown. The exception was Columbus businessman Tony Calloway, whom Hodges met when both men were in Leadership Georgia.
He spoke, calling Hodges a friend and leader.
DuBose pointed to who wasn’t standing behind Hodges. There were no Columbus elected officials there.
“I want to thank the Columbus leadership,” DuBose said. “The Columbus elected officials remember and understand. Some of the elected officials are now elected officials because of Kenneth Walker. There was not a single state representative, city councilor, sheriff — not even a school board member,” DuBose said.
Hodges has been receiving strong support from the law enforcement community, and Muscogee County Sheriff John Darr indicated he was going to support Hodges, but has backed away from that.
“A lot of people who supported me and my campaign here have issues with him,” Darr said.
Hodges points to powerful black leaders who have supported his campaign, including former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Leah Ward Sears and former United Nations Ambassador Andrew Young.
Hodges said he is receiving black support “everywhere except where they subscribe to misinformation being presented by some.”DuBose said the NAACP was sending letters asking Sears, Young and other black leaders who are supporting Hodges to reconsider.
Hodges was also touting support from former U.S. Sen. Sam Nunn and Bo Callway, former secretary of the Army.
While Hodges was in Columbus, his July 20 Democratic primary opponent Rob Teilhet, an Atlanta area attorney and state representative, was releasing a list of his local supporters. It includes Rep. Carolyn Hugley of Columbus, Rep. Debbie Buckner of Junction City and former Rep. Tom Buck.