Sometimes the best contacts are the ones you rarely mention. By a data base count, I quoted Tom Mishou only five times in 25 years.
I’d known him since he ran Cobb County’s public defender program in the early ‘80s. The last time I put his name in print was in 2007, after he’d thrown off politics to become a private contractor in Iraq. He called himself a “combat bureaucrat.”
“War creates a lot of paper work and I’m currently working in ‘document control.’ I expect to move through a few bases while I stay in-country, so I don’t want to get too settled in, ” Mishou wrote from the “general area” of Mosul. “We take in-coming mortar fire virtually every night. The nearest bunker is 12 paces away. I can make it in three.”
Mishou, a Democrat, served around the state Capitol for a number of years in the Secretary of State’s office, first under Max Cleland, Lewis Massey, then under Cathy Cox, for whom he served as boxing commissioner.
He died Monday morning, after a brief bout with cancer that caught me — and many others — by surprise.
Tom Crawford at Capitol Impact, an old Constitution hand, says a memorial service for Mishou will come sometime in September or October. He adds the following:
As a key political aide to secretaries of state Max Cleland and Cathy Cox, he was the person to see if you needed to get copies of public records involving the agency.
He also had an amazing memory of politicians and election campaigns, both here and in his home state of Minnesota (where he was a high school classmate of one Jim Janos, a hard-assed Navy Seal who later became better known as professional wrestler and Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura). I spent many hours in Mishou’s tiny capitol office discussing the latest gossip or laughing over the remembered antics of some politico.
He also took on the tasks of serving as state boxing commissioner and executive director of the Georgia Athletic and Entertainment Commission, the agency established by the General Assembly to regulate ticket brokering firms after ticket scalping was legalized….
While on assignment in Iraq, Mishou suffered a heart attack and had to return to the United States for heart surgery. The last time I saw him on a capitol visit a few months ago, I almost didn’t recognize him. He had dropped a lot of weight after the surgery and was sporting a buzz cut instead of his flowing grey hair. But he still had that wicked sense of humor and love of politics that had made him part of the community.
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