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UPDATED: With all votes in, incumbents win most races
by Everett Catts
November 08, 2012 10:00 AM | 5166 views | 0 0 comments | 25 25 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Staff / Nathan Self<br>
Stephen Newland, of Buckhead, stands next in a line that stretches in loops out the door to vote at E. Rivers Elementary School in Buckhead.
Staff / Nathan Self
Stephen Newland, of Buckhead, stands next in a line that stretches in loops out the door to vote at E. Rivers Elementary School in Buckhead.
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Staff / Nathan Self<br>
Braving the cold weather and rain, voter Heather Haley, of Buckhead, waits in a long line to cast her ballot at E. Rivers Elementary School in Buckhead.
Staff / Nathan Self
Braving the cold weather and rain, voter Heather Haley, of Buckhead, waits in a long line to cast her ballot at E. Rivers Elementary School in Buckhead.
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Staff / Nathan Self<br>
Sandi Smith, of Buckhead, left, looks on as E. Rivers Elementary School poll volunteer Jacki Johnson, of Atlanta, rushes to check paperwork and hand out stickers to voters as the lines grow longer.
Staff / Nathan Self
Sandi Smith, of Buckhead, left, looks on as E. Rivers Elementary School poll volunteer Jacki Johnson, of Atlanta, rushes to check paperwork and hand out stickers to voters as the lines grow longer.
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Staff / Nathan Self<br>
Voter Kay Chance, of Buckhead, waits patiently in a long line for her turn to cast her ballot.
Staff / Nathan Self
Voter Kay Chance, of Buckhead, waits patiently in a long line for her turn to cast her ballot.
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(UPDATED AT 10:01 A.M. FRIDAY WITH QUOTES FROM STATE SENATE CANDIDATES DOUG STONER)

With all 352 Fulton County reporting and all but 159 counties reporting statewide, incumbents ruled the general election Tuesday.

In the presidential battle between Obama, Republican Mitt Romney and Libertarian Gary Johnson, Obama had 64.7 percent of the Fulton County vote but only 45.5 percent of the Cobb County vote. Romney had only 33.9 percent in Fulton but 53.4 percent in Cobb). Johnson had 1.2 percent in both Cobb and Fulton.

Though Romney won the Georgia vote with 53.4 percent, Obama triumphed in both the popular vote (61,210,812) and in the electoral college (303 votes).

In Congressional elections, the incumbents had commanding victories. District 5 U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Atlanta, won big with 84.3 percent. Republican Howard Stopeck, of Virginia-Highland, has 15.7 percent. The district includes part of Buckhead.

In District 6, which includes part of Sandy Springs, incumbent Republican Dr. Tom Price, of Roswell, won with 64.5 percent of the vote. Democrat Jeff Kazanow, of Roswell, had 35.5 percent.

In District 11, which includes parts of Buckhead and Sandy Springs, incumbent Republican Dr. Phil Gingrey, of Marietta, won with 68.6 percent, well ahead of Democrat Patrick Thompson, of Woodstock (31.4 percent).

“Obviously, the critical issue is the debt and deficit,” Gingrey said Tuesday night. “Without question, no matter who is the next president, we have got to cut out all the unnecessary spending. We have got to slowly but surely, and hopefully not too slowly, get rid of the mountain of debt we’re passing on to our children and grandchildren.”

Thompson, who lost to District 21 State Sen. Chip Rogers, R-Woodstock, in 2010, said he may run for office again, and could face Gingrey in two years.

“I would have been happy with 25 percent, so if we end up with over 25 percent, I’m very happy,” he said of this year's election.

In statewide elections, Republican incumbent Chuck Eaton defeated Democrat Steven Oppenheimer and Libertarian Brad Ploeger in the battle for the Public Service Commission's District 3 seat. The district includes Clayton, DeKalb, Fulton and Rockdale counties. Eaton had 52.1 percent of the vote, compared to Oppenheimer's 43.1 percent and Ploeger's 4.8 percent.

“Despite voter drop-off from the presidential race, we ran within one-and-a-quarter points of Mitt Romney, whose lead was so decisive the Democrats never contested Georgia,” Eaton wrote in an email. “The past history of third-party candidates running stronger in PSC races than in presidential elections made our win, without a runoff, a significant victory.

Asked what the key to victory was, he wrote, “We ran a positive campaign on the issues of job growth and competitive electric rates, which were the issues that voters asked about to the exclusion of everything else. This allowed us to discuss our positive record of a 6 percent electric rate cut this summer and our success advocating to repeal the sales tax on energy used in manufacturing, which Gov. [Nathan] Deal signed and has said helped Georgia attract new jobs from Caterpillar and Baxter International.

“One day after the reelection of President Obama, he and [U.S.] Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid have already been publicly discussing the implementation of more burdensome energy policies that will continue to raise electric rates across the country and export jobs overseas. We will need to be cautious at the PSC and maintain our focus on trying to mitigate the rate increases our federal government is trying to force upon us.”

In an email, Oppenheimer thanked voters for their support.

“Having received more 1,525,000 [votes] from the people of Georgia was incredibly gratifying,” he wrote. “The voters and contributors who supported my candidacy represented the political, geographic and demographic diversity that is Georgia. My disappointment in not having won the seat was shared by the actual constituents who reside in District 3, where I won 100 percent of the counties. I appreciate the kindness of my neighbors and new friends around the state who continue to email, call and text with their support, encouragement and the hope that my campaign instilled a change in the ‘business as usual’ approach of the Georgia Public Service Commission.”

Asked what he learned from the experience, he wrote, “The Georgia Public Service Commission, in its role regulating utility monopolies, is a very powerful entity that has neither the public awareness nor public accountability commensurate with its impact on Georgia families’ budgets and it potential to spur clean tech sector jobs in Georgia, which has the ninth highest unemployment in the nation.

"A candidate needs a great team who they trust. So many details and questions arise every day which require decision and follow through. I am grateful to the great individuals who joined my team and brought with them unique skill sets and a great work ethic. After helping with fundraising for 10 years, I entered the race with an appreciation how hard candidates work, but it wasn’t until I became the candidate that I grasped what truly is required.

“I remain committed to the issues on which my candidacy was based – homeowners' rights, reducing energy bills for Georgia families, creating good 21st-century energy jobs in Georgia, greater transparency by the PSC and eliminating conflict of interest by commissioners by eliminating campaign contributions and lobbyist gifts from agents of the regulated utilities. … I thank the Neighbor Newspapers for covering the race. With the decrease in print media there has been an accompanying decrease in investigative journalism. It was very apropos the editor realized the Public Service Commission’s impact is indeed local and in every local in our state.”

In the other commission race, for the District 5 seat, incumbent Republican Stan Wise, of Marietta, had a commanding victory over Libertarian David Staples, of Powder Springs, with 65.9 percent of the vote. The district includes Vinings.

The commission’s three other district posts were not up for re-election this year.

In the only two local contested State Senate races, Republicans won.

In the District 6 election, Republican Hunter Hill (52.8 percent) edged incumbent Democrat Doug Stoner, of Smyrna (47.2 percent). The district includes Vinings and parts of Buckhead and Sandy Springs.

“It is exciting and an honor to have been elected to represent residents of this district in the State Senate,” Hill wrote in an email. “I accept this responsibility recognizing that the voters are trusting me to work on their behalf and in their best interest."

He added the key to victory was a grassroots campaign effort.

"We are fortunate to have energetic volunteers who worked tirelessly to get the vote out — putting out hundreds of signs, making phone calls, spending their weekends knocking on doors and waving signs in the rain on Election Day,” Hill wrote. “We also aimed to run a principled campaign based on the issues facing Georgians, improving job opportunities and the economy. I am pleased that voters responded to that message.”

When asked about the loss, in an email, Stoner wrote, “The nature of the redrawn Sixth district made a victory for me an uphill battle. With heavily Republican precincts drawn in, the district provided a 55 percent or greater edge to any Republican challenger.

“I worked hard to overcome the obstacles and the final tally of 52.87 percent to 47.13 percent demonstrates that had this district not been gerrymandered, I may well have won. In fact, I carried the Cobb County portion of the district two to one. The end results are an important lesson and take away from the Tuesday night election. Democrats can build cross-the-aisle relationships and coalitions."

Stoner, who was seeking his sixth term, wrote he enjoyed the experience of running for re-election.

“I have built meaningful relationships across the aisle and across industries,” he wrote. “Democrats and Republicans alike knew I took a pragmatic approach to politics. Unfortunately, I did not have an opportunity to build that confidence with voters on the Fulton County side before I had to run. My sense is that extreme politics will not be tolerated in the district.

“There were many wonderful experiences in this election cycle. I think one that stands out the most was a forum held at the Mount Paran-Northside Homeowners Association when I drew loud and sustained applause for my belief that government has no place in the personal lives of citizens – particularly women.

"For a decade, I have had the honor and privilege of serving the citizens of the sixth senate district. I have made many friends and the experiences will stay with me forever. I am looking forward to the next chapter of my life and an opportunity to develop several business projects. Politics and governing – particularly the region’s transportation – will remain an integral part of the landscape for me. My wife and daughters will no doubt be happy having more time to spend together.”

In the race for District 56, which includes part of Sandy Springs, incumbent Republican John Albers, of Roswell, had 67.3 percent to defeat Democrat Akhtar Sadiq (32.7 percent).

In the only local contested State House of Representatives election, for the District 54 post, incumbent Republican Edward Lindsey, of Buckhead, won 63.4 percent of the vote to beat Democrat Lynn Brown McKinney, of Buckhead (36.6 percent). In a phone interview Tuesday night, Lindsey said he was not quite ready to declare victory yet, though he is confident.

"Do I feel good we're going to win? Yes. We want to hear from everyone who stood out in the rain [and voted] today," he said of Tuesday's results. "It's looking very good for us. It's a sound referendum for continuing the type of leadership we've shown over the last few years. ... Over the past eight years, my constituents and I have had a strong partnership over my community and my state. I'm gratified by the numbers we're seeing now. I see it was a mandate to continue with the conservative reform measures that we've pushed forward in the past and will continue to push forward in the future."

All other candidates are unopposed.

In Fulton and statewide results, at least 58 percent of voters said yes to both amendments on the ballot. On Amendment 1, regarding charter schools, 65.6 percent approved it in Fulton, with 34.5 percent against it. Statewide, 58.5 percent voted yes.

On Amendment 2, about multi-year office leases for government agencies, 69.7 percent in Fulton voted yes with 30.1 voting no. Statewide, 63.8 percent approved it.

All election results are unofficial until certified by county and state officials, and they do not include provisional ballots.

- Staff Writer Geoff Folsom contributed to this report.
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