North Georgia state House race for Ralston’s seat goes to a runoff

Sheree Ralston and Johnny Chastain seek to succeed Speaker David Ralston

Credit: Miguel Martinez

Credit: Miguel Martinez

A special election for a state House seat that opened following the death of Speaker David Ralston is heading to a runoff between Sheree Ralston, his widow, and Johnny Chastain, a bank executive.

Ralston and Chastain had the most votes among five Republican candidates in the North Georgia election Tuesday, but neither received the majority required to win outright. A runoff will be held in four weeks, on Jan. 31.

David Ralston died in November at age 68 after leading the Georgia House of Representatives since 2010. The area he represented, House District 7, covers Fannin and Gilmer counties, as well as part of Dawson County.

Sheree Ralston is the executive director of the Fannin County Development Authority. Chastain is a banker at United Community Bank who also serves on the development authority’s board.

Conservative talk show host Brian K. Pritchard placed fourth, according to unofficial results Tuesday night. Pritchard faces allegations from the attorney general’s office that he voted nine times while serving a felony sentence in a forgery and theft case, but he has said he completed his sentence before voting.

The other candidates were airport manager Justin Heitman and filmmaker Richie Stone.

The winner of the race will take office while the state House’s annual legislative session is already underway. The General Assembly convenes at the Georgia Capitol starting Monday.


The top two finishers will meet in a Jan. 31 runoff