A candidate in one of the local July 22 primary runoff elections has suspended his campaign and will support his opponent in that race, but the runoff is still on.
John McCloskey, who finished second in the District 54 House of Representatives primary to Beth Beskin but advanced to the runoff, said he is supporting Beskin so a Republican can win the Nov. 5 general election. Beskin nearly won the four-person primary outright with 49.9 percent. McCloskey had 30.3 percent, followed by Loretta Lepore (14.7 percent) and Angelic Moore (5.1 percent).
Incumbent Republican Ed Lindsey is vacating the post to run for Congress. The district includes historic Brookhaven and most of Buckhead. The winner will face Democrat Bob Gibeling and independent Bill Bozarth in November. In an email to supporters May 28, McCloskey and his wife Melissa thanked their backers and said he is supporting Beskin in the runoff.
“[May 27], I reached out to Beth Beskin to offer my congratulations to her on her first-place finish,” McCloskey said. “While it does appear that Beth will finish just short of the requisite number of votes needed to avoid a runoff, I told her that I would suspend my campaign in the runoff and support her on July 22.
“With a Democrat and independent candidate already qualified for the November election, avoiding a long and ex-pensive runoff election in our district is in the best interest of the Republican Party. Beth ran a great campaign and has earned the nomination to represent the Republican Party in [District] 54 in the general election.”
While she is happy with McCloskey’s decision, Beskin said she’s not going to “take anything for granted” because he is still on the ballot as an opponent.
“That’s a misperception because … he did not concede,” she said. “It was misinterpreted by people. He is not with-drawing from the race. I was thrilled to receive 49.94 percent and that he’s suspending is campaign and is not actively campaigning in the runoff. But we’re in a runoff and I’m working very hard to get everyone out to vote for me. I am optimistic that I will be the Republican Party nominee.”
Beskin said she requested a recount May 27 from the Fulton County Board of Registration and Elections because she was so close to winning outright, but it was denied because the state law on recounts does not apply to first-place candidates.
“People including [County Commissioner] Liz Hausmann requested they do a recount,” she said.
The law, Section 21-2-495, only applies to the third-place finisher in a race with three or more people. If he or she has less than 1 percent of the vote between third and second place, that candidate can ask for a recount.
Rick Barron, director of Fulton County Registration and Elections, confirmed Beskin did request a recount.
“She’s the prevailing candidate so she’s ineligible to ask for one,” he said.
Barron also said the runoff will remain on the ballot despite McCloskey suspending his campaign. When asked if he’s seen this situation occur in previous runoffs, Barron, who has 15 years of experience in the private and public sectors with election-related services, said he saw it happen in Williamson and Travis counties in Texas.