U.S. Senate Race

? Isakson Likely to be Next Georgia Senator  

After handily winning the Republican primary for U.S. Senate with 53% of the vote, it appears that for the first time in modern history, Georgia will be sending two Republican senators to Washington in November.

United States Representative Denise Majette will face Cliff Oxford in the Democratic runoff.  Majette received 41% of the vote compared to Oxford?s 21%.  Although he has the ability to self-fund his own campaign; spending more than $1 million of his own money in the primary already; Oxford has been continually dogged by accusations of spousal abuse from two former marriages since entering the race on April 30, 2004.   Oxford could take the high road and bow out of the competition and concede the race to Majette.  

The only chance that Isakson?s democratic challenger would have against him in November would be if Bush were to continue to slide in the polls and the Kerry campaign chose to contest Georgia and spend significant amounts of time and money here.
Congressional Races

? McKinney Will Be Back for Another Term

Cynthia McKinney defeated five contestants including two state senators and a former President of the Atlanta City Council to position herself to retake her old seat in the 4th Congressional District.  Spending virtually no money on advertising, McKinney ran an effective grassroots campaign combined with aggressive ?get out the vote? efforts.   All political consultants should take heed of this race.  Grassroots efforts purely trumped the traditional appeal of television advertising.  Purposely flying below the radar, she apparently did not motivate Republicans to cross over and vote for her opponents.  She managed to develop a positive agenda, appealing to mass numbers of voters in the process.

? Lamutt Runs Well and Faces Price in Runoff

The Sixth District runoff between Tom Price and Robert Lamutt is a dead heat.  Robert Lamutt will join Tom Price in a run-off on August 10th to fill Johnny Isakson?s congressional seat.  The majority of the district lies in Cobb County where Lamutt?s base is strongest.  His Cobb County advantage grows larger now that fellow Cobb County politician Chuck Clay has been knocked out of the race.

? Westmoreland in 8th District Runoff

State Representative Lynn Westmoreland, a five term state representative from Coweta County, is facing Dylan Glenn in a runoff for the 8th District seat vacated by Mac Collins.  Westmoreland captured 46 percent of the vote on Tuesday compared to 38 percent for Glenn.  The district covers 18 counties in the south metro area.  

While Westmoreland has captured the majority of endorsements from local political leaders, don?t count Dylan Glenn out of it.  Glenn, an African American, has been a strong candidate who has built on his experiences working for both Governor Perdue and the Bush Administration.   However, Westmoreland is still the favorite to win.  Glenn will have a difficult time overcoming voters? stereotypes about both his youth and his race.

State Senate Races

? Senate Majority Leader Bill Stephens Holds Off McDonald

In one of the most closely watched primary races this season, State Senator Bill Stephens captured 60% of the vote in Senate District 27 to defeat former Public Service Commission Chairman (and former Democrat) Bubba McDonald.   Had Stephens lost, a power vacuum would have ensued in the Senate leadership.  

? Doug Stoner Likely to Defeat Ginger Collins

In Tuesday?s primary, incumbent State Senator Ginger Collins defeated those challenging her for the Republican nomination in her Cobb County district.   She goes on to face Democratic Representative Doug Stoner in November.  Stoner looks to be in good position because statistics show that a majority of voters in the district vote for democratic candidates.  Also in Stoner?s favor, Collins has shown a real problem creating a solid base of support.

? Seth Harp defeats Dan Lee

In a race that pitted two incumbent senators against one another, Republican Senator Seth Harp defeated Senator Dan Lee, who was one of four democrats who switched parties in 2002 and thus gave control of the body to the Republicans.

? Indicted Former Senate Majority Leader Charles Walker Wins Race

Former Senator Charles Walker has won the Democratic primary in newly redrawn District 22 and will face Republican Senator Don Cheeks in November.  Days after his re-election in 2002, Cheeks became one of four Democrats who switched parties, giving the GOP control of the body.  Expect Walker to win the seat in what is a 63% democratically performing district.   Because Walker is currently indicted, a committee appointed by Governor Perdue, which under Georgia law deals with indicted public officials, will likely remove him from office.  

The seat will then be vacant during at least a portion of the next General Assembly.  Walker has been indicted on multiple counts of conspiracy, mail fraud, and filing false tax returns.
State House Races

? Benfield Holds Off Challengers

Stephanie Stuckey Benfield won the Georgia Democratic primary for State House District 85.  In an overwhelming African American district she handily defeated three opponents with 72% of the vote.

? Son of Congressman Levitas Wins

Newcomer Kevin Levitas captured 71% of the vote in the Democratic primary for the 82nd District.  He will face Republican Paul Jennings in the fall in a largely democratic district.  Levitas? father held the congressional seat currently occupied by Denise Majette in the 1980?s.

? David Ralston Defeats Fellow Incumbent

Although the newly drawn redistricting maps separated most incumbents, some were still forced to run against each other, including Representatives David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge) and Jack White (R-Blue Ridge).  Ralston, a veteran legislator, easily took the contest by 20 percentage points and will return to Atlanta where it is expected he will take on an increasingly greater role in the Republican House leadership.    

? Bordeaux Survives Challenge

Representative Tom Bordeaux (D-Savannah) defeated his well-financed opponent Pearl Persad by an overwhelming margin.  Bordeaux, who served as Judiciary Chair in the House until he was relieved of that position by Speaker Coleman mid-way through this year?s legislative session, has been a staunch opponent of the tort reform measures supported by Georgia?s medical community.  Persad, the wife of a physician, had the complete and total backing of the state’s medical community, raising an astounding $168,447 for a state house race.  

? Teilhet Defeats Democratic Challenger

Incumbent Representative Rob Teilhet held off a challenge from James Royal in House District 40 by a margin of just 10 percentage points.  Teilhet, an attorney, is thought to be an up and comer in the Georgia House.   He currently serves as the committee secretary on the House Industrial Relations Committee and as a member of the Judiciary Committee.  

? Incumbent Michele Henson is Forced into a Runoff

Representative Michele Henson, former vice chair of the insurance committee in the House, has been forced into a runoff with Gloria Gaines in House District 87.  Henson received 44 percent of the vote compared to 38 percent for Gaines.  

Gwinnett County May Be Headed for a New Commissioner Chairman

Former Representative Charles Bannister has likely forced incumbent Republican Wayne Hill into a run-off.  Bannister, a longtime state representative and former mayor of Lilburn, captured 31% of the vote compared to 39% for Wayne Hill and 30% for Marcia Neaton.  By only capturing 39% of the vote, the incumbent Hill looks to be in trouble in the August 10th runoff, as the anti-incumbent votes for Bannister and Neaton will consolidate.  
State Supreme Court Justice Leah Sears Wins Handily

Leah Sears handily won her race to remain in Georgia?s State Supreme Court.  The Governor, as well as the religious right who campaigned for Grant Brantley, openly opposed Sears.  Her win demonstrates that the religious right was not as well organized as they are capable of being and her commercials against Grant Brantley were very effective.
Governor Rogers

State Representative Chip Rogers waged a successful campaign to win State Senate District 21.  Rogers was opposed in the primary by Craig Dowdy, who believed he had run an effective campaign.   It turns out, Rogers won with over 80% of the vote.  

Republicans across the state are impressed by Rogers.   Party insiders are astounded by his sincerity and charm.  Chip is known to be a great guy with strong ethics and family values while also possessing the ability to know and understand the issues.  With all of those accolades, Chip Rogers has been moved to the head of the Republican farm team.  Many have even hinted that a governor?s race may be in his future.  
State Says Good-bye to 77th Governor

George Busbee, the former Albany attorney and 77th Governor of Georgia, was laid to rest on Tuesday, following his death by an apparent heart attack on Friday afternoon at the Savannah Airport.  The 76-year-old Busbee was eulogized as a ?workhorse not a show horse,? the campaign slogan he used successfully in his 1974 bid against Lt. Governor Lester Maddox in seeking the state?s highest office.

A conservative by nature, Busbee took office in 1975, in the midst of one of the state?s toughest fiscal crisis.   That year the General Assembly actually rescinded teacher pay raises that had been granted the previous session.  In 1976 the state adopted amendment 2 to the constitution, allowing Busbee to become the first governor to succeed himself for a second four year.

Jimmy Carter?s rise to the Presidency overshadowed much of Busbee?s first term in Georgia politics, but he is recognized widely as the chief executive who brought an international focus to the state through his numerous trade missions abroad.

Upon retirement from government, Busbee served as a senior partner at the venerable King & Spalding law firm and was director on several corporate boards.  He and his wife, Mary Beth, had made their home in Duluth.

Email Wayne Reece