The race to replace U.S. Rep. Nathan Deal in Congress now moves to a June 8 runoff between front-runner Tom Graves, a former state House member with tea party backing, and former state senator Lee Hawkins of Gainesville.
The winner will finish out the final six months of Deal’s term. The big question now is how many of the other four Republican candidates will declare themselves out of the July 20 Republican primary for the full term that begins in January. And how quickly.
In the Tuesday special election vote, Hawkins won 49 percent of his home Hall County, population anchor for the district, but Graves built his lead by winning strong pluralities in three of the next four most populous caches of votes: 48 percent in Forsyth County; 39 percent in Whitfield County; and 52 percent in Pickens County.
The contest was formally nonpartisan, but both Graves and Hawkins are Republicans. Graves was backed by the Washington-based group Club for Growth, and FreedomWorks — a major sponsor of the tea party movement.
Chris Cates (R) of Blairsville, won 49 percent of his home county of Union, but finished fourth with 12 percent of the vote. Businessman Steve Tarvin (R) of Chicamauga won 54 percent of Walker County, but finished third with 15 percent.
Other candidates, according to the secretary of state’s Web site:
– Mike Freeman (D) of Gainesville, 5.6 percent;
– Former state senator Bill Stephens of Cumming, 4 percent;
– Bert Loftman (R) of Jasper, 2.5 percent;
– and Eugene Moon (Ind.) of Gainesville, 2.2 percent.
Freeman did not qualify for the July 20 Democratic primary.
In other special election contests for the General Assembly, the avoidance of runoffs was the theme of the night:
– Jason Carter, grandson of the former president, is the proud owner of one of the safest Democratic state Senate seats in all of Georgia. He won 66 percent of the vote over fellow attorney Tom Stubbs, who pulled 23 percent.
Carter – who had a massive fund-raising advantage over his three other opponents — replaces David Adelman, who is now the U.S. ambassador to Singapore.
– In the special election contest to fill the District 49 state Senate seat of Lee Hawkins of Gainesville, Republican Butch Miller won 78 percent of the vote, over Jimmy Norman (R) with 14 percent.
– In the special election contest to fill the District 12 state House seat of Tom Graves of Ranger, Republican Rick Jasperse pulled 71 percent of the vote to beat Truett Moss, with 24 percent.
Elsewhere, the contest with the most significance was in West Virginia. This from the Washington Post:
Rep. Alan B. Mollohan (D-W.Va.) lost his bid for a 15th term Tuesday in a primary defeat that further affirms the anti-incumbent sentiment coursing through the country.
He is the first House member to lose a reelection bid in the 2010 campaign, and his defeat comes days after Sen. Robert F. Bennett (R-Utah) was knocked off the November ballot in that state’s convention process.
Mollohan hadn’t faced a serious primary fight in more than a decade and was seen in some circles as unbeatable, given that the state’s 1st Congressional District seat had been in his family since 1968. (His father held it for seven terms before he won it.)
Democratic candidate for attorney general Ken Hodges on Monday kicked off his campaign with a driving tour of the state, starting at the state Capitol in Atlanta.
But he ran into trouble in Columbus, according to Ledger-Enquirer reporter Chuck Williams:
But instead of talking about the “10,000 criminal convictions under his belt,” the topic turned to one he didn’t get as a special prosecutor almost six years ago.
Hodges was the special prosecutor who presented the Kenneth Walker case in November 2004 to a Muscogee County grand jury, which did not indict former deputy sheriff David Glisson for his role in Walker’s 2003 shooting death. Glisson shot Walker during a traffic stop related to a drug investigation. Walker was unarmed at the time of the shooting and no drugs were found in the vehicle.
Glisson is white and Walker is black, and the case caused a racial division in the community.
Hodges held his news conference in plaza of the Government Center, the same building he presented his case to the grand jury. As Hodges talked, about 20 supporters listened. In the back of the room were Georgia NAACP President Edward DuBose and other local civil rights leaders, who took the podium before Hodges reached the elevator.
DuBose said Hodges had “returned to the scene of the crime.”
The NAACP plans to be present “every single time,” Hodges holds a public event in Columbus.
“That’s fine,” Hodges said. “This is a democracy.”
Hodges has been endorsed by several prominent African-Americans, including former state Supreme Court chief justice Leah Sears and former Atlanta mayor Andrew Young.
The article notes that DuBose says he is attempting to get Sears, Young and others to rescind their endorsements.
Hodges faces state Rep. Rob Teilhet of Smyrna in the July 20 Democratic primary.
For instant updates, follow me on Twitter.