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Congressional, state races head to runoff elections Tuesday

July 24,2016 07:23

Georgia law requires a runoff when no candidate in a primary election takes more than half of the vote. Summer runoff elections historically draw even fewer voters than primaries. According to the Georgia Secretary of State's office, about 20 percent ...and more »

Georgians head back to the polls on Tuesday to settle primary runoff elections, including the GOP primary for retiring Rep. Lynn Westmoreland's seat in west Georgia. Several incumbent state lawmakers also face challengers.Georgia law requires a runoff when no candidate in a primary election takes more than half of the vote.Summer runoff elections historically draw even fewer voters than primaries. According to the Georgia Secretary of State's office, about 20 percent of registered voters turned out for the May primary.Here's a look at some of the day's top races:REPUBLICANS TO CHOOSE CONGRESSIONAL NOMINEERepublicans in Georgia's Third Congressional District will select a candidate to replace retiring Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, choosing between state Sen. Mike Crane and former West Point mayor Drew Ferguson. The conservative district in west Georgia includes all of 10 counties and portions of three others.The runoff encapsulates a frequent divide for the national Republican party. Five candidates knocked out by the May primary backed Ferguson, along with Westmoreland who called him "a strong, conservative voice" and appears in an ad paid for by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.In recent weeks, Ferguson's campaign also has touted support from law enforcement and focused on Crane's criticism of so-called "no knock" warrants. At a February event, Crane criticized the warrants allowing police to raid locations without announcing themselves in certain circumstances.He then added: "You come to my house, kick down my door, if I have an opportunity, I will shoot you dead."Police organizations and several local sheriffs criticized the remarks as dangerous. Ferguson's campaign recently rolled out an ad featuring Harris County Sheriff Mike Jolley calling Crane's comments "despicable." The campaign briefly shelved the ad following the fatal shooting of five law enforcement officers in Dallas at the end of a peaceful protest against police shootings of black men in Minnesota and Louisiana.Crane responded with his own ad, calling Ferguson's approach "disgusting" and highlighting his father and uncle who worked in law enforcement. Crane also has received some assistance from the conservative group Club for Growth, which began airing ads blasting Ferguson as "too liberal" for the district.Crane, who is among the state Senate's most socially conservative members, has touted a "true constitutional conservative" label and campaigned in the district on Friday with Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.The runoff winner will face Democrat Angela Pendley in the deep-red district in November.BRAVES STADIUM AT ISSUEIn Cobb County, voters will decide whether the local official who engineered the Atlanta Braves' relocation outside the city keeps his job.Incumbent Tim Lee came in second in the May primary for Cobb County commission chairman but forced a runoff with retired Marine Corps colonel Mike Boyce. Boyce has criticized the secrecy of negotiations between Lee and the team, saying the bonds issued as part of the deal should have received a public referendum.Lee argues that the new SunTrust Park will boost the county's economy for years and says negotiation of any development project is sensitive and first happens privately. He's gotten financial backing from a variety of local and state business groups.INCUMBENTS FACE CHALLENGESThree incumbents in the Georgia House of Representatives face runoff challengers.Rep. Tom Dickson, a Cohutta Republican, will compete against Jason Ridley, a farmer from Chatsworth. Dickson, a retired school superintendent who took office in 2005, often weighs in on education issues in the Legislature. Ridley has criticized Dickson's support for Gov. Nathan Deal's proposed constitutional amendment allowing the state to take over failing schools.Dickson has said that some districts' chronic problems require state intervention. No Democrat has filed to run for the seat in November, meaning the GOP runoff winner will likely represent the district.Rep. John Yates, a Griffin Republican, faces Karen Mathiak, a chiropractor from Griffin. Yates, who has won re-election since 1993, is the last veteran of World War II serving in the legislature. The victor faces Rahim Talley, a real estate developer from Hampton, in November to represent Fayette, Henry and Spalding counties.House leadership pledged to get behind both Dickson and Yates as they try to keep their seats.Rep. Darryl Jordan of Riverdale is the only Democratic legislator facing a runoff. Rhonda Burnough, a school administrator from Riverdale, hopes to replace Jordan who was first elected in 2000 to represent parts of Clayton County.No Republican has filed to run for the seat.DEMOCRATS COMPETE FOR STATE SENATE NODThe leader of the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus hopes to become Democrats' nominee for a state Senate seat but has some ground to make up based on May primary results.Dee Dawkins-Haigler, a Lithonia minister, gave up a state House seat to run for her party's Senate nod. Dawkins-Haigler faces Tonya Anderson in Tuesday's runoff. Anderson is a life coach and pastor from Lithonia and got the highest number of votes in the May primary.The runoff winner will face Republican state Sen. JaNice Van Ness of Conyers, who won a special election last year in the competitive district.

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