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Wednesday, January 9, 2013 - 12:49pm

Special Elections Don't Decide All Races

Four special elections were held Tuesday to fill vacant seats in the General Assembly. But only two races were decided.

The results have not yet been certified, but republican Brandon Beach won nearly 58 percent of the vote for the District 21 Senate seat. Republican Mike Dugan received nearly 88 percent of the vote for the District 30 Senate seat.

There will be runoffs. They include the race for District 11 Senate seat in Colquitt, Decatur, Early, Grady, Miller, Seminole and parts of Mitchell and Thomas counties. And the District 21 House seat in portions of Cherokee County

Dr. Kerwin Swint, political science professor at Kennesaw State University, says who ever wins the February 5th runoffs will have a harder time reaching their legislative goals since the General Assembly session begins January 14th.

“They’re going to miss a few weeks, but those weeks can be crucial in terms of getting legislation introduced, aligning of committee assignments. So it’s not fatal, but it’s going to delay some of the things they want to get done.”he says.

And Swint says “ That’s potentially bad for the citizens who live in those districts who may have to rely on legislators from neighboring areas while the elections are being fought out until early February.”

The Decatur County Administrator says he’s not worried they will be missing a state senator. He says the District 11 House representatives can look after their interests.

A state representative who has served in the House since 2007, lost his bid to move into the state senate representing portions of Cherokee County.

Sean Jerguson was re-elected to his House seat in November. He stepped down to run against Brandon Beach in a special election. The state Senate seat opened up in District 21 when Chip Rogers stepped down to take a job with Georgia Public Broadcasting.

Dr. Swint says both are fairly conservative republicans. He says lawmakers can’t always assume their popularity will translate from a House race to a Senate race.

“Brandon Beach had been on the ballot pretty recently. He had challenged Chip Rogers for that seat. So he may have had an edge in name identification. He may have had an edge in manpower, some of the people who helped him in his campaign. It was relatively recently so he may have had an organizational edge. And maybe even a fundraising edge.”he says.

Low voter turnout may have also played a role. Unofficial results show Beach won with just under 55 hundred votes.

The election results are expected to be certified in time for the General Assembly session, which begins January 14th.