Close votes leave statewide, House races hanging in Georgia
SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — Incredibly close races down the ballot in Georgia left several races still hanging a day after the polls closed, with several statewide seats and two congressional races too tight to declare a winner.
Democrats, shut out of holding any statewide office in Georgia since 2010, put up fierce challenges Tuesday beyond the showdown for governor between Republican Brian Kemp and Democrat Stacey Abrams.
At least one race — the contest for Kemp’s current job as secretary of state — will require a runoff Dec. 4 to determine a winner.
Elections for Georgia’s open seat for insurance commissioner and two seats on the Public Service Commission could also go into a month of overtime. Those races remained too close to call Wednesday.
Meanwhile, two Republican members of Congress were still waiting to learn their fates after facing strong Democratic challengers in metro Atlanta districts long considered safe for the GOP.
Here’s a look at some of the high-profile contests beyond the gubernatorial battle.
The campaign to replace Kemp as Georga’s top election official won’t be settled until next month.
Former Democratic congressman John Barrow, who lost his House seat in 2014, advanced to a runoff with Republican state Rep. Brad Raffensperger. Libertarian Smythe Duval’s presence in the race prevented any candidate from surpassing 50 percent of the vote as required to win.
The race to succeed Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens, who opted not to run again, remained too close to call. Republican Jim Beck, Hudgens’ former chief of staff, led Democratic insurance agent Janice Laws in unofficial returns. But Beck was hovering near the threshold that could trigger a runoff in the three-way race with Libertarian Donnie Foster.
Republican Geoff Duncan will succeed Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, who gave up his office to run unsuccessfully for governor.
Duncan, a former state lawmaker, defeated Democratic businesswoman Sarah Riggs Amico in the race for the No. 2 statewide office. Duncan will be only the second Republican to hold the job since it debuted on the ballot in 1946. Democrats last won the office in 2002.
Republican Attorney General Chris Carr won his first election test since the governor appointed him two years ago to fill the unexpired term of his predecessor, Sam Olens. Unofficial returns showed Carr defeated Democrat Charlie Bailey, a former Fulton County prosecutor who has argued Carr lacks the legal experience the job demands.
GOP state School Superintendent Richard Woods won a second term against Democrat Otha Thornton Jr., who was the first black man to serve as president of the National PTA.
Republican Labor Commissioner Mark Butler defeated Democrat Richard Keatley, a former professor of French and Italian. And Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black won re-election over Democratic software developer Fred Swann.
Two congressional seats in metro Atlanta remained too close to declare winners Wednesday. Extremely thin vote margins separated Democratic challengers from Republican incumbents in suburban districts once considered safe for the GOP.
In the 6th District north of Atlanta, Republican Rep. Karen Handel faced Democratic gun-control activist Lucy McBath, whose teenage son was fatally shot six years ago in Florida. Last year Handel won the House seat in a grueling special election against Democrat Jon Ossoff, who spent $30 million on the race.
In the neighboring 7th District, GOP Rep. Rob Woodall faced Democrat Carolyn Bourdeaux, a college professor at Georgia State University who outpaced the incumbent congressman in fundraising. Bourdeaux raised more than $1.9 million, nearly double Woodall’s total. However, the four-term Republican congressman has won each of his prior elections with no less than 60 percent of the vote.
PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION
Two Republican members of Georgia’s utility-regulating Public Service Commission were struggling to avoid runoffs in campaigns run amid criticism over escalating costs for building two new nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle near Augusta.
GOP incumbent Chuck Eaton faced Democrat Lindy Miller and Libertarian Ryan Graham for the commission’s District 3 seat in metro Atlanta. And Republican commissioner Tricia Pridemore was being challenged by Democrat Dawn Randolph and Libertarian John Turpish for the PSC’s District 5 seat in western Georgia.
Unofficial returns showed both Republican incumbents leading but close to finishing with less than 50 percent of the vote, which would send their races to runoffs.
The PSC has come under fire for its December vote authorizing construction to continue at Plant Vogtle, a decision made before Pridemore was appointed in February. The project is years behind schedule and billions of dollars over budget, raising concerns that ratepayers will get saddled with the added cost.
ELSEWHERE IN THE U.S. HOUSE
GOP Rep. Tom Graves easily won re-election in his congressional district that strongly favors Republican candidates. This year, his Democratic opponent was further handicapped by having to spend much of the campaign in jail.
Graves defeated Democrat Steve Foster, who was sentenced by a judge in August to six months in jail for drunken driving. Foster’s attorney, Richard Murray, confirmed the incarcerated candidate was released Tuesday. Foster refused to quit the 14th District race in northwest Georgia. The misdemeanor DUI conviction didn’t disqualify him from the ballot.
Six other GOP congressmen — Reps. Buddy Carter, Jody Hice, Rick Allen, Doug Collins, Barry Loudermilk and Drew Ferguson — all overcame Democratic challengers.
Three Democratic congressmen — Reps. Sanford Bishop, Hank Johnson and David Scott — also defeated opponents.
Democratic Rep. John Lewis and GOP Rep. Austin Scott were unopposed.
For AP’s complete coverage of the U.S. midterm elections: http://apne.ws/APPolitics