Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for August 22, 2012


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for August 22, 2012

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Three themes emerge from last night’s election results, plus a bonus:

1. It was a bad year for incumbents across the state and many of them lost if forced into runoff elections;

2. Governor Nathan Deal had the most valuable endorsement in GOP contests this year;

3. Gwinnett County saw the end of a political dynasty and possibly the end to an era in politics.

4. Rick Allen was an unlucky name to have in a primary runoff

First off, Congressional contests. In Southwest Georgia’s Second Congressional District, John House is the Republican nominee against Democrat Sanford Bishop, beating one Rick Allen.

In the new Ninth District, where Hall County is the political center, State Rep. Doug Collins beat Martha Zoller with an assist in the form of a robocall by Gov. Nathan Deal who is wildly popular and represented the district in Congress previously. In the 2010 Republican Primary Runoff for Governor, Deal carried Hall by a nearly 4-1 margin, sufficient to provide his margin of victory.

State Rep. Lee Anderson won the Republican nomination for the Twelfth Congressional District with a slim margin over the other Rick Allen; Anderson won without carrying Columbia County, where he lives. Again, a robocall from Governor Deal helped the eventual winner.

In Gwinnett County, the longest-serving County Commissioner Mike Beaudreau lost his reelection by a 56-vote margin to third-time lucky Tommy Hunter. It is likely this loss had as much to do with anti-incumbent sentiment caused by a string of indictments and an avoided indictment of other Commissioners.

That means that, come January, the longest serving board member will have just two years experience, after the unexpected resignations of embattled politicians Charles Bannister, Kevin Kenerly and Shirley Lasseter among a string of ethics issues, including bribery allegations.

Also in Gwinnett, Kathy Schrader decimated Tracey Mason Blasi, niece of developer Wayne Mason, to win a seat on the Gwinnett County Superior Court with a 70-30 margin.  Mason Blasi’s father, Jimmy Mason served in the Georgia General Assembly, Wayne served as Chairman of the County Commission and Wayne’s son Keith Mason served as Executive Secretary to Governor Zell Miller. A son-in-law serves on the Superior Court bench.

Those two results in Gwinnett County might point to a politics that is no longer dominated by developers and related interests, but that requires more data points before becoming a trend.

Emily Brantley won a hard-fought election to Gwinnett County State Court over Pam Britt. Brantley’s 60-40 win over Britt was resounding, but Britt did well enough that she will be a credible candidate should she decide to run again.

Cobb County Chairman Tim Lee was one of the few incumbents to win reelection,

With all votes except provisional ballots counted, Lee won 14,309 votes (52%) over Byrne’s 13,014 votes (48%) — though the earliest results showed Byrne leading Lee. Only 27,323 votes were cast in the race. There are 398,052 registered voters in Cobb, though not all of them voted Republican.

Lee attributed his win to “a very well-thought-out plan, great grassroots supporters, and a very intelligent electorate.”

Also important to Lee’s victory were big fat sacks full of money that he had and Byrne didn’t.

Also in Cobb, Lisa Cupid defeated incumbent Commissioner Woody Thompson in the Democratic Primary Runoff.

Incumbent DeKalb County School Board member Paul Womack was crushed 35-65 by challenger Jim McMahan and Melvin Johnson won an open seat on the School Board.

Incumbent Hall County Commission Chair Tom Oliver was defeated by a more than 2-1 margin by former Sheriff Dick Mecum. Patty Waters Laine won the GOP runoff for Probate Court Judge. Darla Eden will serve as Tax Commissioner. There’s a new Sheriff in town and his name is Gerald Couch, who succeeds Sheriff Steve Cronic, who endorsed Couch’s opponent.

Richmond County also has a new Sheriff Richard Roundtree.

The people of Clayton County, bless their hearts, returned former Sheriff Victor Hill to office, though his tenure may be short this time.

“Don’t be sorry for me. Be sorry for Clayton County,” [incumbent Sheriff Kem] Kimbrough said. “I’ll be fine but there are a whole lot of people’s lives that will be affected by this and maybe they have to see this for themselves. It’s something I’ve heard a million times; only in Clayton County. It is what it is.”

[Victor Hill’s] biggest problem as he prepares to take office is the criminal case against him.

If he has not gone to trial by the time he is to take office in January, the governor could suspend him and appoint a temporary sheriff until the felony case is resolved. There is no trial date.

Former Clayton Sheriff Victor Hill is facing 37 criminal counts related to his time in office. Assuming his case is not resolved by the time he takes office in January, here’s what could happen.

The governor could suspend Hill based on the criminal charges he faces.

The governor would appoint a temporary sheriff.

If Hill is not convicted he could return to office.

If Hill is convicted, he would disqualify himself for the office of sheriff.

If Hill cannot serve, voters would get to choose a new sheriff.

Clayton County Democrats also turned out incumbent Chairman Eldrin Bell in favor of Jeff Turner and incumbent Commissioner Wole Ralph, who lost to Shana Rooks.

Forsyth County incumbents fared poorly, with Sheriff Ted Paxton losing to challenger Duane Piper and Cindy Jones Mill beat incumbent County Commissioner Patrick Bell.

Carroll County Chairman Bill Chappell lost in a landslide 32-68 to Republican challenger Marty Smith.

Senate Runoff Elections

Senator Bill Heath (R) beat challenger Bill Carruth by nearly ten points to return to the Gold Dome.

Incumbent Gail Davenport (D) won reelection over former Senator Gail Buckner.

Senator Miriam Paris (D) lost her reelection to former State Rep. David Lucas.

Other local races

Alison Sosebee won the GOP runoff for District Attorney for the Appalachian District, which comprises Fannin, Gilmer and Pickens Counties.

Paulding County Chief Magistrate Martin Valbuena squeaked out an eight-vote victory to retain his seat on the bench.

Muscogee County Municipal Court Judge and Chief Magistrate Steven D. Smith, who was appointed by Gov. Perdue, won a tight reelection by 117 votes.

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