GOP lose a few seats, keeps control of Legislature after redistricting

In the first election after the Republican-led General Assembly redrew political lines, the GOP easily retained control of the Statehouse in Tuesday’s election.

In the state House, Democrat Ruwa Romman of Johns Creek won her race and will become the first Muslim woman in the chamber and Democrat Farooq Mughal of Dacula will be the first Pakistani-American in the Legislature., while Republican Tim Fleming, former chief of staff to Gov. Brian Kemp and an ex-Newton County commissioner, won a seat east of Atlanta.

In the Senate, Rep. Ed Setzler, R-Actworth, who sponsored the state’s strict anti-abortion law, won his race for a seat in the upper chamber. Shawn Still of Norcross, who joined a group of Republicans who falsely said they were electors to support Donald Trump’s bid to overturn the election, won another Senate seat redrawn to elect a Republican.

Before Tuesday’s election, Republicans held 103 of 180 seats in the state House and 34 of 56 seats in the Senate, and that didn’t change much after the GOP majority created new political maps that all but ensured they would retain control.

Republicans lost a seat in the Senate and a few in the House overall, but those losses were predicted after redistricting because of population shifts away from rural Georgia and into Democratic cities and suburbs. Earlier projections were that House Republicans would lose up to five seats.

Many Georgia voters didn’t have a choice on the ballot for their House or Senate seats. There was no Democratic Party challenger in 42 districts and no Republican candidate in 28 districts. Most of those races were settled by intraparty primary races.

In metro Atlanta, state Rep. Josh McLaurin, D-Atlanta, beat Liz Hausmann, a Republican Fulton County commissioner from Johns Creek. Meanwhile, Sen. Michelle Au, D-Johns Creek, who was drawn into a Republican-leaning Senate district by the GOP majority, won a state House seat.

Former Republican state Rep. Scott Hilton of Peachtree Corners beat state Rep. Mary Robichaux, a Democrat from Roswell, one of at least two races where Republicans looked poised to retake north metro Atlanta seats they previously held, while Rep. Mike Cheokas, R-Americus, who has been in and out of the state House, won another term.

In another state House race, Democrat Lisa Campbell, a consultant from Kennesaw, beat Republican Robert Trim, a real estate agent and former political consultant. Trim was sentenced to 60 days in jail in 2014 after he was found guilty of lying to authorities and filing a false police report that alleged a Cherokee County school superintendent tried to run over a school board member he advised, another woman and him after a heated meeting.

Buford state Rep. David Clark, a Republican who has challenged the House leadership in recent years, won a new state House seat. Clark was drawn into a district with Rep. Bonnie Rich, R-Suwanee, but beat her in the Republican primary earlier this year.

Jason Esteves, a Democrat who has served as chairman of the Atlanta school board, beat Fred Glass, a Republican financial adviser from Atlanta, for the Senate seat currently held by Sen. Jen Jordan, D-Atlanta. Jordan ran this year for attorney general.

Overall, the Republican leadership team in the Senate brushed off Democratic challengers in Tuesday’s election.

When the new General Assembly is seated in January, it will be headed by new leadership: Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan, the Senate president, didn’t run for reelection, and on Tuesday state Sen. Burt Jones, R-Jackson, scored a victory to replace him.

House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, announced last week that he wouldn’t seek reelection to the top job in the chamber, although he was reelected to his House seat without opposition Tuesday. One of his chief lieutenants, House Majority Leader Jon Burns, R-Newington, is a favorite to take over as speaker, although nothing is certain as others are vying for the post.