Philip Singleton, a commercial pilot and U.S. Army veteran, has won the recently vacated Newnan-area House seat. Submitted photo.

Army veteran, Ralston critic wins Newnan-based Georgia House seat

A U.S. Army veteran and vocal critic of House Speaker David Ralston will head to the state Legislature after winning a runoff election for a Newnan-area seat.

The win deals a blow to the chamber’s powerful speaker and his allies.

Philip Singleton defeated Marcy Westmoreland Sakrison — a private school teacher who had the support of the House’s most powerful Republican — in the runoff to last month’s special election to replace former state Rep. David Stover, R-Newnan. Both are Republicans.

The runoff had become a referendum of sorts on Ralston and Tuesday’s vote signals that voters might be frustrated with the Blue Ridge Republican.

“I think that the people of Coweta and Fayette counties made it very clear that they’re tired of the good-old-boy, crony-type of negative politics,” Singleton said. “They just want strong conservative values and leadership, I think they made that abundantly clear.”

Before leaving office, Stover was one of 10 Republican legislators who signed a resolution calling for Ralston to resign over his delaying of court cases in his legal practice. Singleton fashioned himself as the anti-establishment candidate, picking up the baton from Stover in calling for Ralston to step down from his position as House speaker, the top job in the chamber.

An investigation by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Channel 2 Action News earlier this year found Ralston, a defense attorney and Blue Ridge Republican, frequently delayed criminal cases by claiming court dates interfered with his legislative duties when lawmakers weren’t in session.

According to unofficial results from the Secretary of State’s office, Singleton won with nearly 59% of the ballots cast — about 4,300 votes. About 9% of the district’s nearly 48,000 registered voters cast ballots in the runoff election.

Sakrison, the daughter of a former state House Republican leader and congressman, had the support of prominent Republicans, including Ralston — who donated $2,800 to Sakrison. Other Republican lawmakers donated at least $10,500 to Sakrison, and several lobbyists and statehouse special interests also donated to her campaign.

Singleton received $500 from state Rep. Emory Dunahoo, a Gillsville Republican.

Singleton also raised about half of what Sakrison raised during the campaign. Sakrison reported about $118,000 in donations. Singleton raised almost $68,000, according to state campaign finance records.

This was Singleton’s second campaign in as many years. He unsuccessfully challenged incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Drew Ferguson. Singleton lost the Republican primary, getting about 26% of the vote.

Singleton also was the top finisher in the Sept. 3 election, securing about 37% of the 5,004 votes cast. Sakrison got about 34%. Since neither won a majority of the ballots cast, a runoff was required.

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