Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Georgia Democrats fail to gain ground in state Legislature

Posted By on Wed, Nov 5, 2008 at 6:14 PM

Georgia's Democratic state legislators may be the only members of their party who failed to hitch a even a short little ride on Obama's coattails.

The Republican edge in the state House of Representatives looks to drop from 34 seats to a 33 or 32 seat margin. Whoopie.

No incumbent state senators lost and Republicans look set to hold onto their 34-22 margin.

Republicans actually look as if they'll defeat to incumbent Democratic legislators. Longtime Rep. Jeannette Jamieson of Toccoa is one of the casualties. She deserved to lose after it was revealed that she wasn't paying some taxes — and she's an accountant.

The other Democratic incumbent who lost appears to be North Georgia's Charles Jenkins (although all the votes aren't in from that contest, which remains close).

The Republican incumbents who lost include Steve "Thunder" Tumlin (a recent Golden Sleaze Award winner), who was beaten by Democrat Pat Dooley. Dooley had held the seat before, and demographic changes have made the Marietta district more favorable to her party.

And Republican incumbent John Heard was beaten by John Thompson in a Gwinnett districts that Democrats targeted because it's more diverse.

In the 95th District (split between Gwinnett, Newton and Rockdale counties), an open seat was taken easily Toney Collins. It had been held by moderate Republican Robbie Mumford, who quit the rapidly trending Democratic district rather than switching parties.

Another race, in Macon's 140th District, is pretty close to dead even, with Democrat James "Bubber" Epps 117 votes ahead of incumbent Allen Freeman.

f Epps holds on, Democrats will have gained two whole seats in the House. Whoopie.

Nothing could better demonstrate the weak Democratic showing than two DeKalb districts that seemed ripe for a Democratic takeover. With 17 or 18 precincts reporting, Republican incumbent Jill Chambers was beating back challenger Chris Huttman, who's said he ran after he saw that Democrats hadn't recruited someone for the seat. People apparently were so unexcited about the choices that Chamblee/Doraville district attracted close to the lowest turnout of any contests House election in the state.

In the neighboring 80th district, which straddles I-85 just inside the Perimeter, party-switching incumbent Mike Jacobs easily handled Michelle Conlon. Conlon entered the race after the original Democratic candidate was forced off the ballot for residency reasons.

The 67-33 margin wasn't surprising because GOP Secretary of State Karen Handel wouldn't let Democrats reopen qualifying, which forced Conlon to run as an independent. But the fact that Democrats weren't able to line up a candidate to take on a party switcher in a Democratic-leaning district says that the Georgia party was caught flatfooted.

Scott Henry contributed to this report.

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