Today’s the primary runoff election in Georgia. None of the races in my area went unresolved last month, so I’m sitting this one out. Metro Atlanta races of interest include commission races in Cobb and Gwinnett and the sheriff’s race in Clayton County.
The big election news in the state tonight will come from Republican races in two congressional districts. State Rep. Doug Collins and radio talk-show host Martha Zoller are in a heated race in the Northeast Georgia district centered on Gainesville: Collins bested Zoller by just 734 votes out of nearly 110,000 cast last month. To the east, the district that stretches from Augusta down almost t0 Savannah pits state Rep. Lee Anderson against Augusta businessman Rick Allen: Anderson led with 34 percent in the first round, while Allen barely made the runoff ahead of two other candidates.
Either Collins or Zoller is almost certain to win the very conservative 9th District’s general election in November, so after tonight one of them can start looking for a second home in Washington. The 12th District, however, is a different story.
The Democratic incumbent, John Barrow, has won a couple of easy contests after surviving his tough first two elections in 2004 and 2006. Although he’s aiming for just his fifth term, he’s working with his third different group of constituents. Georgia Republicans have redrawn the map on him twice already, in a manner reminiscent of what Democrats used to do to Newt Gingrich early in his congressional career.
This year, the first election with the newest map, the GOP would appear to have drawn the map so that it is sufficiently heavily Republican to give Barrow no hope. The national GOP congressional campaign has targeted the seat and seems prepared to put a good bit of money into the race. Yet, the primary looked like a contest to make it as easy as possible for Barrow to stick around Capitol Hill at least two more years.
The perceived frontrunner, Augusta attorney and former Naval pilot Wright McLeod, fell less than 600 votes short of overtaking Allen for second place and a spot in the runoff. Anderson, a farmer, rode rural support to first place but was an underwhelming speaker, to say the least, in debates. A fourth candidate, Maria Sheffield, moved into the district to run for the office and was never much of a factor.
If Barrow can dodge his party affiliation with President Obama — as he’s already working to do — he seems to stand a good chance of denying Republicans one of their best chances nationwide at picking up a seat.
– By Kyle Wingfield