Georgia Primary Runoff Roundup - Deal, Sinkfield pull off upsets; Olens crushes

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August 11, 2010

By Joseph Kastner

ATLANTA, Georgia: Three weeks after initially casting their ballots in the state's primary election, Georgia voters returned to the polls to determine in three major statewide contests who received their respective party nominations and moved on to the general election in November. Two of the races - the Republican campaign for governor and the Democratic competition for secretary of state - produced surprising upsets, though each by different degrees, while the Republican race for attorney general was a predictable landslide.

Despite placing first with a nearly eleven point advantage over her opponent in the state's primary election on Tuesday, July 20, 2010, former Secretary of State Karen Handel fell short of securing the party nomination in the race for governor by as little as two-thousand five-hundred votes. Her primary run-off challenger, former congressman Nathan Deal, matched her Sarah Palin endorsement with the backing of former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrinch and former Governor of Arkansas Mike Huckabee. Additionally, while Handel's campaign continued to run the same television advertisement that was produced for the primary campaign, Deal's camp launched two new commercials - one attacking Handel's stand on gay rights and the other refuting charges her campaign has made against him. All this resulted in a run-off race much tighter then anyone might have expected. Regardless of the tensions between the two candidates and the closeness of the vote count, Handel conceded the evening of the election and urged her supporters to back her opponent in order to defeat Democrat Roy Barnes in November. [1]

2010 Race for Governor - Republican Primary[2]
Candidates Percentage
Green check mark.jpg Nathan Deal (R) 50.2%
Karen Handel (R) 49.8%
Total votes 578,673

Even though she was one of the last individuals to file papers seeking the Democratic nomination in the race for secretary of state, State Representative Georganna Sinkfield, who placed second with a little over twenty-two percent of the vote in the state's primary election, came from behind and upset State Senator Gail Buckner in capturing the party nomination. [3] There is no precise reason behind this, however. Contributions may have played as factor as campaign financial disclosure reports filed with the State Ethics Commission demonstrate; a six days before primary run-off report submitted by Buckner's campaign shows that the state senator was only able to raise $10,700 in the run up to the election while her opponent brought in over two-hundred grand during that same period of time. [4][5] The underwhelming turnout of Democratic voters - only 100,666 cast their vote in this particular contest - certainly did not benefit Buckner either.

2010 Race for Secretary of State - Democratic Primary Run-off[2]
Candidates Percentage
Green check mark.jpg Georganna Sinkfield (D) 61.9%
Gail Buckner (D) 38.1%
Total votes 100,666

Former chairman of the Cobb County Board of Commissioners, Samuel S. Olens, coasted to an easy victory on Tuesday, August 10, 2010, receiving nearly fifty-nine percent of the vote and snatching the nomination away from his opponent, State Senator Preston Smith. [6] Though polling data suggested as much in the lead up to the election date, the endorsements of two state senators and four state representatives, including Larry O'Neal, chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, no doubt bolstered enthusiasm for his campaign.[7][8]

2010 Race for Attorney General - Republican Primary Run-off[2]
Candidates Percentage
Green check mark.jpg Samuel S. Olens (R) 58.9%
Preston Smith (R) 41.1%
Total votes 508,163

See also

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