What you need to know about Tuesday's Georgia House special election

What you need to know about Tuesday's Georgia House special election

January 7th, 2019 by Tyler Jett in Local Regional News

Any Georgian casting a ballot Tuesday will likely have a more impactful voice than usual.

There is a special election in most of Gordon County and part of Murray County to decide who will join the state House of Representatives. Six candidates have qualified for the run, five Republicans and one Democrat. But because the election comes at an odd time, far away from the political ads and rallies leading up to the November race, the candidates themselves expect a low turnout.

Case in point? After three weeks of early voting, only 1,307 people cast ballots — 1,281 in Gordon County and 26 in Murray County. In the election for the same seat on Nov. 6, 15,833 people voted, with four out of every five ballots going for the Republican incumbent, state Rep. John Meadows.

But Meadows, a 14-year veteran of the Legislature and the powerful chairman of the House Rules Committee, died a week later. The secretary of state's office scheduled this special election.

The field is crowded, with five conservative Republicans and one Democrat. Attorney Jesse Vaughn, a lifelong resident of the county, has received more funding than the other five candidates combined, according to the most recent campaign contribution reports. He has also had to explain his past history with the other party; he ran for the House as a Democrat in 2002 and was chairman of the local Democratic party after that.

Vaughn told the Times Free Press last week he is confident his message is breaking through. He pointed out the truth about most older residents in the area: They themselves used to be Democrats, just like outgoing Republican Gov. Nathan Deal and his predecessor, Sonny Perdue.

A bit about the other candidates:

» Matt Barton, the owner of a courier business who used to serve as a Calhoun city councilman and a Calhoun City Schools Board of Education member

» Steve Cochran, a real estate investor and the former owner of a moving business with no political experience

» Larry Massey Jr., a former Marine Corps. major who previously served on the Gordon County Board of Education

» Brian Rosser, a musician and the only Democrat in the race (he lost to Meadows on Nov. 6, with 18.4 percent of the vote)

» Scott Tidwell, a life insurance salesman and senior pastor of Prayer Baptist Church in Chatsworth. He narrowly lost against incumbent state Sen. Chuck Payne, R-Dalton, in the Republican primary in May. (Tidwell received 47.1 percent of the vote.)

Who can participate in Tuesday's election? Registered voters who live in Murray County's Southwest precinct, as well as those who live in Gordon County's Lily Pond, Pine Chapel, Resaca, Sugar Valley, Oostanaula, Plainville, "A County" and "B City" precincts. Some voters in the Sonoraville and Red Bud precincts also will be able to vote.

Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Anyone hoping to cast a ballot must bring a government-issued voter ID, such as a driver's license.

Contact staff writer Tyler Jett at 423-757-6476 or tjett@timesfreepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @LetsJett.