General Election Runoff
Georgia PoliticsNews

General Election Runoff

One hundred and ninety-six days after the May 22 primaries, the 2018 election season in Georgia appeared to have reached its conclusion with the Dec. 4 general election runoff.

Dave Schechter is a veteran journalist whose career includes writing and producing reports from Israel and elsewhere in the Middle East.

Georgia State Capitol
Georgia State Capitol

One hundred and ninety-six days after the May 22 primaries, the 2018 election season in Georgia appeared to have reached its conclusion with the Dec. 4 general election runoff.

Two statewide races – for secretary of state and for a seat on the Public Service Commission – remained undecided after the Nov. 6 general election because no candidate received a majority of the votes cast.

As of 12:30 a.m. Wednesday, with all of the state’s 2,634 precincts listed as reporting, Republicans held leads of better than three percentage points in both contests.

If those leads hold – pending the counting of absentee and provisional ballots – Brad Raffensperger will be the next secretary of state and incumbent Chuck Eaton will serve a third term representing District 3 on the PSC.

Raffensperger led Democrat John Barrow by 51.97 percent to 48.03 percent.

Eaton led Democrat Lindy Miller by 51.83 percent to 48.17 percent.

As of early Wednesday, neither Barrow nor Miller – attempting to become the first Jewish woman to win a statewide partisan race – had conceded.

Eaton posted on Twitter at about 10:30 pm. Tuesday: “It looks like we have won the election. Thanks to the voters of Georgia for honoring me with another term. I look forward to working with Gov elect @BrianKempGA to build on the legacy of @GovernorDeal #gapol #gagop”

Barrow posted on Facebook early Wednesday: “This has been a highly contested election. However, all of the absentee votes have not yet been counted, and right now it appears that the number of absentee ballots that have not been counted is greater than the margin of difference. Therefore, in order to make sure that every voice is heard, we need to make sure that every vote is counted. I’ll wait for the remaining ballots to come in — and for them to be counted.”

Turnout for the runoff was a paltry 22.68 percent, well below that of the general election in which 61.4 percent of Georgia’s nearly 6.43 million registered voters cast ballots.

A major issue in the secretary of state race was the conduct of future elections. Republican Brian Kemp, who remained in that office during his successful run for governor, was at the center of allegations of voter suppression and questions about the security of the state’s voting machines.

In the general election, Raffensperger had received 49.09 percent of the vote and Barrow, 48.67 percent. The runoff was forced by Libertarian candidate Smythe Duval, whose 2.23 percent prevented either Raffensperger or Barrow from winning a majority.

The PSC regulates what Georgians pay for electricity, natural gas, and telecommunications. PSC commissioners are elected statewide but represent districts. District 3 is made up of Fulton, DeKalb, Clayton and Rockdale counties.

Topping the issues in the PSC race was the status of the two nuclear reactors under construction at the Plant Vogtle power station in Waynesboro, a project five years behind schedule and with a price tag of $27 billion, nearly double the original estimate.

In the general election, Eaton had received 49.7 percent and Miller 47.63 percent. The 2.67 percent received by Libertarian Ryan Graham forced the runoff.

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