Special election runoff keeps Cobb-based House seat in Republican hands

Georgia’s Capitol.
Caption
Georgia’s Capitol.

An ambulance company executive will be the next state representative in a Marietta-based House district as a special election runoff Tuesday kept the seat in Republican hands.

Republican Devan Seabaugh easily defeated Democrat Priscilla Smith on Tuesday.

In a South Georgia-based special election, Toombs County GOP Chair Leesa Hagan defeated fellow Republican Wally Sapp.

The runoffs were required because no candidate received a majority of the vote in their special election races last month.

The seats were 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.

Latest vote counts

Seabaugh received 63% of the vote, decisively beating Smith in the House District 34 race. Nearly 9,000 voters cast ballots Tuesday.

Seabaugh was the top finisher in last month’s special election, receiving about 47% of the votes cast in the five-person Cobb County contest. Smith, an artist known for her parody of former President Donald Trump, received nearly 25% of the vote last month.

Hagan, an online consulting firm owner, pulled in about 52% of the vote Tuesday, with Sapp, a car dealer, securing 48% of the roughly 6,000 ballots cast.

While runoffs historically have lower turnout than initial elections, more voters came out for both of Tuesday’s contests than did four weeks ago in the first round of balloting.

Nearly 2,000 more people voted in the Cobb-based House District 34 contest on Tuesday than last month. More than 1,000 additional voters cast ballots Tuesday than last month in the House District 156 election in South Georgia.

Some political operatives thought the Cobb race could be an early test for suburban Atlanta Republicans after the state supported Democrats Joe Biden for president in November and Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock in January for the U.S. Senate.

But the Republican Reeves had easily held off Democratic challengers in the past.

Even as other suburban districts around his fell to Democrats, Reeves held his seat in 2020, receiving 56% of the vote and fending off Smith.

Still, the special election and runoff drew the attention of the nonprofit voting groups of Stacey Abrams and Kelly Loeffler, Fair Fight and Greater Georgia, respectively. Both organizations worked to get voters to cast ballots Tuesday and spent money on the race — Fair Fight financed a digital attack on Seabaugh, and Greater Georgia ran digital ads and paid for polling.