Democrats win Georgia Senate seat, the House is largely a wash Tuesday

The Georgia Senate came to the close of the 2016 legislative session in the wee hours of Friday morning. BOB ANDRES / BANDRES@AJC.COM

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The Georgia Senate came to the close of the 2016 legislative session in the wee hours of Friday morning. BOB ANDRES / BANDRES@AJC.COM

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump took Georgia Tuesday but the 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 the first in state history by an openly gay man.

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.

Rep. Joyce Chandler, R-Grayson, appeared to come 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.

In DeKalb County, former DeKalb County CEO Vernon Jones completed a political comeback Tuesday, winning a seat in the Georgia House, where he once served for nearly a decade.

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