published Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014

Election Digest: Georgia runoff primary to decide nominations for Congress

The retirement of Republican U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss set off a political game of musical chairs that was partially settled with Tuesday's primary runoff election.

Three congressmen from Georgia — Jack Kingston of Savannah, Paul Broun of Athens and Phil Gingrey of Marietta — left the House of Representatives because they wanted to replace Chambliss. A crowd of politicians then competed for a chance to be elected to those soon-to-be-vacant House seats. Because none of those candidates competing for the House seats won an outright majority, a runoff election was required.

The winners of Tuesday's primary runoff will be their party's nominee for November's general election. Kingston lost the Republican Senate runoff to businessman David Perdue.

Here's a look at where the other races stand:


CONGRESSIONAL RACES

1st DISTRICT: State Sen. Buddy Carter of Pooler won the Republican primary runoff against Bob Johnson, a Savannah surgeon backed by local tea party groups. Early, unofficial returns showed Carter winning about 54 percent of the vote. Carter is seeking to replace Kingston, who held the seat for more than two decades. Savannah UPS supervisor Brian Reese won the Democratic primary with about 63 percent of the vote against real estate agent Amy Tavio of Richmond Hill.

10th DISTRICT: Minister and conservative talk radio host Jody Hice of Monroe beat trucking company owner Mike Collins with about 54 percent of the vote in the GOP runoff. Hice is seeking to replace Broun, a fundamentalist Christian who once denounced evolution as a lie "straight from the pit of hell." Collins' father is former Republican Rep. Mac Collins.

11th DISTRICT: State Sen. Barry Loudermilk of Cassville, a tea party-backed candidate, beat former U.S. Rep. Bob Barr of Smyrna, who was trying for a comeback in the district north of Atlanta held by Gingrey. Barr helped lead the impeachment of Bill Clinton. Early returns showed Loudermilk winning about 66 percent of the vote against Barr.


STATE SCHOOL SUPERINTENDENT

The current schools superintendent, John Barge, mounted an unsuccessful challenge against incumbent Gov. Nathan Deal in the Republican primary rather than seek re-election to his education post. The Republican primary proved too close to call late Tuesday night. Unofficial tallies showed longtime Irwin County educator Richard Woods with just over 50 percent of the vote against Michael Buck, the chief academic officer at the Georgia Department of Education. Just over 700 votes separated the two candidates, or less than 1 percent of the ballots cast. Under state law, Buck could request a recount. The winner of the Republican contest will face Democrat Valarie Wilson, the former chairwoman of the Decatur School Board. She won 54 percent of the vote against state Rep. Alisha Thomas Morgan in the Democratic primary runoff.


TURNOUT

Voter turnout was relatively low. About 12 percent of registered voters cast ballots in statewide Republican and Democratic primary runoff races on Tuesday, compared with roughly 19 percent in the May primary election.

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