Key Georgia Races Remain Tight
Stay tuned, folks. Thousands of uncounted paper ballots may change some races. Dec. 4 runoffs possible in some races.
Dave Schechter is a veteran journalist whose career includes writing and producing reports from Israel and elsewhere in the Middle East.
At daybreak Wednesday, several key races in Georgia were far from settled – with runoffs, recounts, and maybe court challenges in the offing.
Start with the gubernatorial race that attracted national attention.
With the state listing 100 percent of precincts reporting (as of 8:46 a.m) – but possibly not all paper ballots counted – Republican Secretary of State Brian Kemp led Democrat Stacey Abrams 50.4 percent to 48.6 percent, with Libertarian Ted Metz at 0.94 percent.
A statement by Abrams’ campaign pinned its hopes to lower that nearly 2 percentage points deficit rest primarily on what they believe are tens of thousands of as-yet unreported early mail ballots from seven counties, including as many as 25,000 in Cobb County, and the counting Wednesday of some 20,000 absentee ballots in Gwinnett County.
Those ballots could impact close races throughout the ballot.
A recounting of paper ballots or electronically recorded votes can be triggered with a margin of 1 percent or less.
Georgia law requires a runoff in a statewide race if no candidate receives a majority of the vote (over 50%). If necessary in any races, the runoff would be held Dec. 4.
Even closer than the gubernatorial race was the contest for secretary of state, where Republican Brad Raffensperger led Democrat John Barrow 49.2 percent to 48.4 percent, with Libertarian Smythe Duval’s 2.2 percent likely forcing a runoff between Raffensperger and Barrow.
A runoff may come in the statewide race for public service commission district 3, where Republican incumbent Chuck Eaton led Democrat Lindy Miller 49.8 percent to 47.5 percent, with Libertarian Ryan Graham’s at 2.6 percent. District 3 covers Fulton, DeKalb, Rockdale and Clayton counties.
Miller was attempting to make history as the first Jewish woman to win a statewide partisan race. (The late Judge Debra Bernes won a statewide nonpartisan election to the Georgia Court of Appeals in 2004 and served until she died in 2010.)
Nearly 3.9 million Georgians cast ballots, a bit more than 60 percent of the state’s 6.4 million-plus registered voters. Turnout in the 2014 mid-term election was 50 percent. In some precincts voting sites stayed open as much as three to four hours later than scheduled, because of mechanical and other problems with voting machines.
Very narrow margins were reported in two closely-watched congressional races.
In the pre-dawn hours, the state’s election count in the 6th district moved Democratic challenger Lucy McBath ahead of Republican incumbent Karen Handel, 50.4 percent to 49.5 percent.
In the 7th district, Republican incumbent Rob Woodall trailed for much of the evening but rebounded to lead Democratic challenger Carolyn Bourdeaux, 50.5 percent to 49.4 percent.
Democratic incumbent Hank Johnson handily defeating Republican challenger Joe Profit in the 4th district, Democratic incumbent John Lewis was unopposed in the 5th district, and Republican incumbent Barry Loudermilk won a comfortable victory in the 11th district.
In other major statewide races, with 100 percent of precincts reported, according to the state:
- Republican Geoff Duncan led Democrat Sarah Riggs Amico in the race for lieutenant governor, 51.8 percent to 48.1 percent.
- Republican Chris Carr, who was appointed attorney general two years ago by Gov. Nathan Deal (after Republican Sam Olens left to become the president of Kennesaw State University), led Democrat Charlie Bailey, 51.4 percent to 48.5 percent.
Incumbent Republican School Superintendent Richard Woods led Democratic challenger Otha Thornton, 53.2 percent to 46.7 percent.
As for the half dozen Jewish candidates for the General Assembly, with all precincts reporting:
- In the 45th senate district, Republican incumbent Renee Unterman recorded a comfortable win as she sought re-election to the seat she has held since 2003.
- In the 56th senate district, Democratic challenger Ellyn Jaeger lost to Republican incumbent John Albers by 52.5 percent to 47.4 percent.
- In the 36th house district, Democrat Jen Slipakoff lost to Ginny Ehrhart 65.8 percent to 34.1 percent.
- In the 51st house district, Republican Alex Kaufman lost to Democrat John McLaurin, 51.4 percent to 48.5 percent.
- In the 79th house district, Democrat Mike Wilensky won his bid for an open seat, defeating Republican Ken Wright 53.7 parent to 46.2 percent.
- In the 86th house district, incumbent Democrat Michele Henson ran unopposed for a 16th term.