By Matthew Strother
Jack Kingston and David Perdue will head into a runoff for the highly contested Republican U.S. Senate candidate seat, while Michelle Nunn came out with a large lead on the Democratic ballot to secure her party’s candidacy for the seat.
In Troup County, Perdue led the Republican senate race with 38 percent, or 1,785 votes. Kingston actually was third locally, with about 17.5 percent, or 823 votes, while candidate Phil Gingrey came out with the second most Troup votes on the Republican ballot, securing about 22.6 percent, or 1,059 votes, compared to 10 percent – 60,443 – of the statewide votes. Troup Democratic voters mirrored the state with about 75 percent supporting Nunn, locally securing her 993 votes.
Statewide, Perdue took the lead with 184,459 votes, about 31 percent, and Kingston had 155,446 votes, about 26 percent. Nunn gained 242,025 votes statewide.
Incumbent U.S. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland reclaimed his District 3 seat, which covers Troup County, securing 69 percent of the vote – 36,321 – statewide, and 75.6 percent – 3,508 – in Troup. There is no Democratic challenger for the seat.
In the governor’s race, incumbent Nathan Deal secured the Republican nomination handily with 72 percent statewide, a total 428,197 votes. In Troup, Deal held 75 percent of Republican votes at 3,511. Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jason J. Carter was unopposed and will face Deal in the general election in November for the governor’s seat. Also unopposed were lieutenant governor candidates in their respective parties’ races – incumbent Republican L.S. Cagle and Democratic challenger Connie Stokes – who will face off in November.
Also headed for runoffs are both the Republican and Democratic nominations on the crowded state school superintendent ballots. State rules require a candidate to receive 50 percent plus one vote to avoid a runoff and advance to the general election.
Valarie Wilson, a nonprofit director from Decatur, finished first in the six-person Democratic race Tuesday, and Alicia Morgan, a state representative from Austell, finished second, according to unofficial returns. Michael Buck, an educator and acting chief of staff for current Superintendent John Barge, took first, and Richard Woods, an educator from Tifton, took second in nine-person Republican contest, unofficial returns showed.
The seat is being vacated after a single term by Barge, who was one of two unsuccessful Republican primary challengers to Gov. Nathan Deal.
In Troup, Woods was the top vote-getter on the Republican ballot, with 842 votes, about 22 percent total, while Buck was second on the ballot with about 18.6 percent, or 711 votes. On the local Democratic ballet, Marion S. Freeman secured the most votes with 27.1 percent, or 334 votes, over Wilson’s second place, 25.2 percent at 311 votes, and Morgan coming in third on the ballot with 20.7 percent at 255 votes.
In local legislative seats, no one was opposed in the primary, but two incumbents face opposition in November. Incumbent Republican state Sen. Mike Crane of Newnan, District 28, will face Democratic challenger Cynthia C. Bennett of Newnan. Incumbent state Sen. Josh McKoon of Columbus, District 29, will face Democratic challenger Brian P. Roslund of Pine Mountain Valley.
In the state house District 132 seat left open by long-time Rep. Carl Von Epps of LaGrange, a Democrat, who is not running for re-election, Republican candidate W. E. “Gene” King of Gay will face Democratic candidate Robert T. “Bob” Trammell Jr. of Luthersville.
State Rep. Randy Nix of LaGrange, District 69, and state Rep. John Pezold of Fortson, District 133, are unopposed.
Incumbents in most other statewide constitutional offices, all Republicans, ran unopposed in their primaries, while the other races with contested Democratic primaries were insurance commissioner and secretary of state. Republican Public Service Commissioner Lauren “Bubba” McDonald successfully fought off two primary challengers.
In the Democratic primary for secretary of state, Doreen Carter, a consultant from Lithonia, beat Gerald Beckum, mayor of Oglethorpe and owner of a landscaping business, according to unofficial returns. Carter will try to unseat Republican Secretary of State Brian Kemp.
In the Democratic primary for insurance commissioner, Liz Johnson, a retired insurance agent from Statesboro, beat Fayetteville insurance associate Keith Heard, according to unofficial returns. Johnson will challenge Republican incumbent Commissioner Ralph Hudgens.
In the race for the Public Service Commission District 4 seat, McDonald fended off challenges from Doug Kidd, a lawyer from Lavonia, and Craig Lutz, a Hall County commissioner from Flowery Branch, according to unofficial returns. He will face off in November against Democrat Daniel Blackman, an environmental planning and policy consultant from Cumming who was unopposed in the primary, and Libertarian Aaron Gilmer, a payroll company executive from Dawsonville.
— The Associated Press contributed to this report.