The candidates for Georgia Secretary of State shake hands after they held a debate at Georgia Public Broadcasting in Atlanta. The candidates are, from left, Democrat John Barrow, Libertarian Smythe DuVal and Republican Brad Raffensperger. The Atlanta Press Club debate will air on Georgia Public Broadcasting. BOB ANDRES / BANDRES@AJC.COM
Photo: Chelsea Prince/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Photo: Chelsea Prince/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

A Libertarian runner-up picks a side in secretary of state race

Democrat John Barrow picked up a surprising endorsement in his Dec. 4 runoff bid for secretary of state: The third-place finisher who forced the race into overtime.

Libertarian J. Smythe DuVal on Monday threw his support behind Barrow, a former U.S. House member whom he said was able to “fix Georgia’s broken election system” and save tax dollars through a ranked choice voting system that would eliminate separate runoff elections.

“John Barrow is the best choice to represent the interests of all Georgia citizens including independents, Libertarians, and fiscal conservatives,” he said.

The razor-thin race ended with Republican Brad Raffensperger, a state legislator from Johns Creek, roughly 16,000 votes ahead of Barrow. 

But neither got the majority-vote margin they needed to win outright because DuVal captured about 2 percent of the vote. 

Republicans have dominated the handful of fall statewide runoff elections in Georgia, but Democrats hope to harness the energy from Stacey Abrams’ narrow defeat and the drumbeat of concerns about voter suppression and ballot security. 

Abrams, for one, said she will also work to elect Barrow, whom she called “a man of principle and goodwill who will administer his responsibilities for the people – not his party.”

The Barrow-Raffensperger battle won’t be the only race on the ballot. Public Service Commissioner Chuck Eaton, a Republican, also faces Democrat Lindy Miller. 

More: A high-stakes December runoff even without an Abrams-Kemp matchup

More: Amid a fight over ballots, a runoff to decide who should count them

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About the Author

Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein is a political reporter who covers the governor's office and state politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.