April 8, 2014. Photo of the Georgia State Capitol taken from in front of the Sloppy Floyd Building April 8, 2014. BRANT SANDERLIN /BSANDERLIN@AJC.COM .
Photo: BRANT SANDERLIN / BSANDERLIN@AJ
Photo: BRANT SANDERLIN / BSANDERLIN@AJ

Democrats win Georgia Senate seat, House largely a wash Tuesday.

Tuesday’s elections provided little in the way of a shakeup in the state’s General Assembly.

One historical note: the first openly gay man was elected to the state House, from Gwinnett County.

Democrats picked up a seat in the Georgia Senate, where Sen. JaNice Van Ness, R-Conyers, was routed by former Democratic state Rep. Tonya Anderson. Van Ness narrowly beat Anderson last year in a special election for a seat held in the past by Democrats.

In the House, Republicans picked up a metro Atlanta seat when lawyer Meagan Hanson bested Rep. Taylor Bennett, R-Brookhaven, who unexpectedly won his seat last year in a Republican-leaning district.

In Milledgeville, Republicans gained a seat held by the House’s only independent, Rusty Kidd, who retired this year. Milledgeville funeral director Ricky Williams beat former Democratic state Sen. Floyd Griffin for that post.

Democrats, meanwhile, picked up seats in Gwinnett County and South Georgia. Sam Park defeated state Rep. Valerie Clark, R-Lawrenceville. Georgia Equality sent out a release touting Park’s election as a first.

“The election of an openly gay man to the Georgia General Assembly represents just one more step on the road to full equality for LGBT people in Georgia,” said the group’s executive director, Jeff Graham. “Not only is the election of Sam important for the LGBT and Asian-American communities, it is also an acknowledgement that Georgia voters are rejecting the politics of discrimination.”

Longtime Rep. Mike Cheokas, R-Americus, who switched parties in 2010, lost his toss-up district against former Americus Mayor Bill McGowan. State Republican leaders invested heavily in re-electing Cheokas, a well-liked committee chairman, only to see him lose by less than 300 votes.

Rep. Joyce Chandler, R-Grayson, came from behind to beat chemical engineer Donna McLeod of Lawrenceville in a district Democrats thought they could pick up. As in the case of Cheokas, Republican leaders poured money into Chandler’s race in hopes of helping her retain her seat.

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