Runoffs set in two Georgia House special elections

The Georgia State Capitol and Liberty Plaza as viewed from the James H. “Sloppy” Floyd Building. Bob Andres / bandres@ajc.com
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The Georgia State Capitol and Liberty Plaza as viewed from the James H. “Sloppy” Floyd Building. Bob Andres / bandres@ajc.com

Voters in two Georgia House districts will have to wait another month to learn who will be their new state representatives after candidates in special elections Tuesday in Cobb County and South Georgia failed to get more than half of the vote.

In Cobb County, Republican Devan Seabaugh and Democrat Priscilla Smith emerged from the five-way special election and will face off again next month. South Georgia candidates Leesa Hagan and Wally Sapp, both Republicans, received more votes than the lone Democratic candidate in that race.

The winners of July runoff elections will represent their respective districts during this year’s redistricting proceedings and next year’s legislative session before facing the voters again — possibly with dramatically changed boundaries.

The seats are open because state Reps. Bert Reeves and Greg Morris resigned from office earlier this year. Reeves, a Marietta Republican, stepped down to take a job at his alma mater, Georgia Tech. Morris, a Vidalia Republican, was elected to the State Transportation Board.

Although it’s long been a GOP seat, House District 34 in Cobb County is considered an early test for suburban Atlanta Republicans after the state supported Joe Biden for president in November and Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock in January for the U.S. Senate, all Democrats.

Seabaugh, an ambulance company executive, received about 47% of the votes cast in the Cobb County contest, according to unofficial results from the secretary of state’s office. Smith, an artist known for her parody of former President Donald Trump, received nearly 25% of the vote. Since neither candidate received a majority of the 7,000 votes cast, a runoff is required.

The other contenders — Democrat Sam Hensley Jr., Republican David Blinkhorn and Libertarian Chris Neill — finished third, fourth and fifth, respectively.

In South Georgia’s House District 156 race, Hagan, an online consulting firm owner, and Sapp, a car dealer, came within 1 percentage point of each other, but neither received a majority of the nearly 5,000 votes cast to avoid a runoff. Hagan received about about 43% of the vote, while Sapp pulled in about 42%. Democrat Wright Gres finished third in the contest with nearly 15% of the vote.

Voters in House Districts 34 and 156 will go back to the polls July 13 for runoff elections.

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