Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Runoff recap: Perdue to face Nunn, Tea Party wins big, Mann keeps DeKalb Sheriff’s post

Political newcomers claimed victory over established politicians in some of the state’s most high-profile races

Posted By and on Wed, Jul 23, 2014 at 8:38 AM

In an election marked by abysmal voter turnout, Georgia’s primary runoff races went down to the wire last night. In many cases, political newcomers claimed victory over established politicians in some of the state’s most high-profile races.

Georgia voters yesterday ensured that three current congressman would leave Washington D.C. at the year’s end, one former congressman would not return to the nation’s capitol, and an outside candidate will likely lead the state’s beleaguered public school system. Many political analysts predicted low voter turnout due to the fact that it was primary runoff leading up to an off-year election. And they were right: roughly 12 percent of registered voters in Georgia turned out to the polls. Here's how the candidates fared in the runoffs impacting metro Atlanta:

U.S. Senate, Republican Party: After a grueling nine-week runoff, one where both campaigns spent a combined $11 million, veteran corporate exec David Perdue squeaked by 11-term Savannah Congressman Jack Kingston with approximately 51 percent of the overall vote to claim the GOP's nomination in the race to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga. Perdue managed to win most of north Georgia, while Kingston snatched up much of the southern part of the state, including his home turf in Savannah. But the deciding factor likely came with metro Atlanta voters lining up behind Perdue, a cousin of former Gov. Sonny Perdue, even though Kingston received major endorsements from two Georgia congressmen, former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

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  • Georgia Secretary of State
Perdue will now turn his attention toward a campaign against Democratic U.S. Candidate Michelle Nunn, a longtime nonprofit executive and daughter of former Georgia U.S. Sen. Sam Nunn, for the next three-and-a-half months leading up to the general election. Prior to the polls closing, Kingston and Perdue had already pledged to back each other once the GOP nominee was decided. Nunn, a political newcomer, will finally face her first true political test after running virtually opposed against three unfunded Democratic primary opponents. Neither Perdue or Nunn have ever served in elected office.

State School Superintendent: A total of 15 candidates had originally thrown their hats into the primary race for Georgia's top education post. Current Superintendent John Barge, who lost his underdog gubernatorial bid against incumbent Gov. Nathan Deal last May, left his post up for the taking. Considering the large number of candidates, a runoff was inevitable. Four candidates — Barge's Chief of Staff Mike Buck; veteran educator Richard Woods; former Decatur City Schools Board Member Valarie Wilson; and state Rep. Alisha Thomas Morgan, D-Austell — emerged out of the primary.

On the Democratic side, Wilson advanced by a nearly 9-point margin. Wilson, who’s also the former chairwoman of the Georgia School Boards Association and executive director of the Atlanta Beltline Partnership, the smart-growth project’s fundraising arm, was cast as a staunch defender of traditional public education. Thomas Morgan was one of most vocal charter school supporters under the Gold Dome — a stance that earned her some critics from the Democratic Party’s more traditional members. Meanwhile, the race between Buck and Woods appeared headed towards a recount. As of early this morning, unofficial results showed that the difference between the two candidates was within 1 percent with Woods maintaining a less-than-800 vote lead. Whichever GOP candidate ultimately emerges will go on to face Wilson.

DeKalb County Sheriff: Interim DeKalb County Sheriff Jeff Mann can finally remove the world "interim" from his position’s title. The county lawman, who's been filling in following Thomas Brown's departure to pursue an unsuccessful congressional bid, thwarted former DeKalb CEO Vernon Jones' attempt to return to troubled DeKalb County government. Mann, who garnered more than three-quarters of DeKalb’s votes, will continue to oversee the county’s jails, manage its more than 850-officer force, and oversee an $80 annual million budget.

U.S. House of Representatives, District 11: In one of the more lopsided races, former state Sen. Barry Loudermilk, R-Cassville, stomped all over former Congressman Bob Barr's comeback effort by a nearly two-to-one margin. The north metro Atlanta seat is currently held by U.S. Rep. Phil Gingrey, R-Marietta, who lost his bid for Chambliss' seat. Tonight’s win for Loudermilk represents a major victory for the Tea Party in Georgia.

U.S. House of Representatives, District 10: The Tea Party took another one of Georgia's congressional seats. Conservative radio talk show host Jody Hice seized U.S. Rep. Paul Broun's current post up in Athens. Hice defeated trucking company owner Mike Collins by sizeable margin. He'll now face off against Democratic candidate Ken Dious, an Athens-based human rights attorney, in what's considered a heavily Republican district. Hice, it should be noted, could very well be Broun in disguise. The national media is already catching on to past comments he’s made about Muslims and the First Amendment, the LGBT community, and something called “blood moons.”

U.S. House of Representatives, District 1: Former state Sen. Buddy Carter, R-Pooler, easily won against Savannah surgeon Bob Johnson in Georgia’s 1st Congressional District. The GOP pharmacist is now pitted against Savannah UPS manager Brian Reese, who topped Richmond Hill real estate agent Amy Tavio for the Democratic nomination, in a Republican-leaning district.

Fulton County Commissioner, District 5: In the lone runoff in a newly-redistricted Fulton County, attorney Marvin Arrington cruised to victory against former Atlanta Public Schools Board of Education Member Brenda Muhammad, winning a slightly more than 60 percent of the vote. The two candidates emerged from a crowded primary that also included property manager Dell Byrd, program manager Johnnie Gordon, and attorney Kwame Thompson.

NOTE: This post has been edited to include updated figures about the percentage of Georgia residents who cast ballots in yesterday's primary runoff elections.

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