The runoff election in Georgia State Senate District #54 (Dalton) is today between Republican Chuck Payne and non-partisan candidate Debby Peppers. Mr. Payne led in the first round of voting last month with 36%; Ms. Peppers finished just over 400 votes behind him in 2nd, with 27%.
It is a commonly held belief in the world of politics that the only folks who vote in local special elections (to fill a vacancy in a state legislative seat, for example) are those devoted and committed voters who are fully engaged in the political process and the workings of their municipal, county, and state government. This assertion obviously makes sense, and is supported by the fact that voter turnout rates for such elections are lower than those for almost any other type of election.
There is a Special Election on Tuesday in Georgia State Senate District #54 (Dalton area) to replace Sen. Charlie Bethel (R), who was appointed to a state judgeship. Five candidates filed to run:
- Conda Goodson, a community volunteer who ran against Sen. Bethel in the May 2016 Primary
- Chuck Payne, the former Whitfield County Republican Party Chairman
- Debby Peppers, a former Whitfield County Commissioner
- Michelle Underwood, a former educator who lost a bid for a seat on the Whitfield County Commission in May
- William Vinyard, contractor
Runoff elections were held on Tuesday in Georgia, a full 9 weeks after party primaries on May 24th. Runoffs took place among Republicans for the 3rd Congressional District seat being vacated by Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R), as well as in 2 State Senate districts (1 D, 1 R), and 11 State House Districts (5 D, 6 R).
Here are the results from yesterday’s local and special elections, with the biggest surprise being the closeness of the Milwaukee Mayoral race:
In Alabama HD #5, Republican Danny Crawford defeated Democrat Henry White by just under 700 votes, 59% to 41%, to keep this seat in GOP hands. As expected, most of Rep.-elect Crawford’s margin came from polling locations in central Athens, and the neighborhoods to the north. Former Rep. White only won a handful of precincts, which were to the south and west. Voter turnout was slightly over 13 percent.
Here are the local and special elections of interest today:
The spotlight contest is in Alabama State House District #5 (Athens), where former Athens city councilman Danny Crawford (R) faces former State Rep. Henry White (D) to fill the vacancy caused by the passing of Rep. Dan Williams (R) last summer. Rep. Williams unseated Mr. White in 2010 and won a rematch in 2014, taking about 56% of the vote each time. And while the Democrat likely started this campaign with greater name recognition, the Republican nominee, Mr. Crawford, has emerged from a five-candidate GOP primary in September (that we analyzed here), and defeated current Athens city councilman Chris Seibert in a December runoff (that we analyzed here). Those two rounds of voting have surely elevated Mr. Crawford’s profile, especially among reliable GOP voters, and with this area being so Republican, a Democratic win here in northern Alabama would be a pretty stunning result. The current party composition of the Alabama House of Representatives is 70 Republicans, 33 Democrats, and 2 open seats.
It’s Election Day 2015, with statewide races in Kentucky and Mississippi, and state legislative elections in Virginia, Mississippi, and New Jersey. There are also a host of city and county elections across the country, as well as voter initiatives at both the local and statewide level. Here are a few great summaries of the major races happening today:
- Ballotpedia – http://ballotpedia.org/What%27s_on_the_ballot%3F_-_November_3,_2015
- Baseballot – http://baseballot.blogspot.com/2015/11/your-complete-guide-to-election-night.html
- DK Elections – http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/11/01/1440784/-Kentucky-s-hot-race-for-governor-tops-our-hour-by-hour-guide-to-election-night-2015
Well, yesterday’s headline race, the runoff in Georgia’s HD #80 in the Atlanta suburbs, was anything but uneventful as Democrat Taylor Bennett registered an impressive victory over Republican J. Max Davis. I’ll hopefully post a more detailed look at these results later, but the lede is that Bennett converted his 37% showing in July’s special election against three Republican candidates into a win with almost 55% against just one. As was noted yesterday, both state parties made winning this previously-Republican controlled seat a priority, and it’s fair to say that Bennett’s 450 vote margin was larger than almost anyone expected. Voter turnout saw a big jump as well with almost 5,000 votes cast, a near 25% increase over July.
Both Democrats and Republicans in the Peach State are very focused on this state legislative runoff in the Atlanta suburbs. With polls essentially closing, here are some quick thoughts about what a win by Democrat Taylor Bennett might look like.
There were about 4,000 votes cast in the July special election, and recent history suggests the runoff total will exceed that. Let’s assume a 12.5% increase, or 4,500 votes, which means the winning candidate will need to get to 2,250.
Bennett would definitely have to win Fulton County, and the turnout there needs to be big. I didn’t see much increase in the early voting numbers in Fulton compared with July, but it appears that advance voting generally makes up a small portion of the voting numbers in both these counties. Regardless, Fulton County turnout would have to be 700 votes or more, with Bennett winning 450-500 of them. That produces a margin of 65-35, which seems high, but this is also where Davis came in a distant third.
I would think Bennett would also have to win the southern parts of DeKalb County (Briarwood, Cross Keys High, & Woodward Elem), where he took almost 50% of the vote in July. He need to win close to 60% of the vote here, and turnout would need to be about 650-700 in those three precincts. That would net him another 425 votes.
Also, Catherine Bernard’s strongest precinct, by far, was Brookhaven, and Davis received only 13% here. If Bernard’s voters stayed home today, there won’t be 400 votes cast like in July.
Those are some big assumptions, but if they play out, Bennett would only need to hold Davis to 55% in the rest of DeKalb to win. I expect Davis will run up big totals in the northern part of the district (Ashford Parkside, Ashford Dunwoody Road, and Montgomery Elem). I would especially watch Silver Lake and Kittredge Elementary. Bennett narrowly won both of those in July. If he did so today, he probably wins.
Here is a quick summary of the seven special elections happening today, August 11, 2015:
Georgia has three state House special election runoffs, as I’ve analyzed in numerous posts and on my Twitter feed. The headline race is probably HD #80 in Fulton and DeKalb counties near Atlanta. This is a Republican-held seat in which the lone Democratic candidate, Taylor Bennett, won the special election in July with 37% of the vote. Three Republican candidates, led by J. Max Davis, received the remaining 63%. The third-place candidate, Republican Catherine Bernard, trailed Davis by less than 60 votes; she has also refused to endorse Davis. Both state parties have focused on winning this seat, but the Republican nature of this district makes Davis the logical choice to win.