U.S. Rep. Paul Broun, R-Athens, won a full term Tuesday in a landside victory over Democrat Bobby Saxon, who had hoped Augusta area support would help him.
The freshman congressman beat the underfunded Mr. Saxon, a political newcomer, 61 percent to 39 percent with all but a handful of precincts reporting. Unofficial returns showed Mr. Broun with 177,109 votes to 114,463 to Mr. Saxon with 99 percent of precincts reporting.
Mr. Saxon had counted on support in the Augusta suburbs and hoped moderate Republicans who supported Mr. Broun's past Republican opponents would turn to him. But Augusta area conservatives stuck with the Republican Mr. Broun. He won 71 percent of the vote in the conservative bastion of Columbia County.
Mr. Broun won 19 of the sprawling district's 21 counties. Mr. Saxon won 63 percent of the vote in left-leaning Clarke County and narrowly won in Richmond County.
Mr. Broun was elected to the 10th Congressional District seat by winning a special election and runoff in 2007 after U.S. Rep. Charlie Norwood's death. He also faced a primary challenge in July, making this the fourth election he's won in the past 17 months.
"I'm looking forward to having a little breather between my next election and now," he said.
"Thank you and thank the Lord, because I'm here to serve him and I'm here to serve you," Mr. Broun told about 200 supporters during a victory speech at the Georgia Center
Mr. Saxon had a head start on Mr. Broun, announcing his candidacy less than a month after Mr. Broun took office and continuing to campaign while Mr. Broun fended off a GOP primary opponent.
He ran as a gun-loving conservative and emphasized his military service, but he struggled to raise money, his staff turned over several times and he failed to gain traction in rural areas.
"We could've raised more money (to advertise), and we made a lot of mistakes that first-time candidates make," Mr. Saxon said.
He did not rule out another run for office.
"I don't think this is my last race," he said. "We'll regroup here for the next few days and go back to normal life."
Mr. Broun has never shied away from bucking his party. He also demonized Saxon and the Democrats who control Congress throughout the campaign, calling their health care and economic policies socialist and blaming them for the current financial crisis. He pledged Tuesday to set aside party labels and look for bipartisan ways to solve to the nation's problems.
"We need to find solutions," he said. "Neither party has all the answers."
Mr. Broun will do a good job if he reaches across the aisle, Mr. Saxon said.
"I hope he'll go to Washington and work in a bipartisan way," Saxon said. "If he does, we'll have a good congressman, and we'll both be happy."
Mr. Broun said he will re-introduce several bills next year that failed to gain traction during his partial first term.
Among the legislation he introduced or signed onto were constitutional amendments banning gay marriage and requiring Congress to balance the federal budget; and bills that would outlaw abortion, replace income taxes with a national sales tax, ban the sale of Playboy on military bases, restrict the travel of leaders from nations that sponsor terrorism and use local police to enforce immigration law.
"It's going to be building off what I did the first year and a half," he said.