Perdue backers get DOT seats

ATLANTA --- The two board members who sided with Gov. Sonny Perdue in choosing Gena Abraham to head the state Department of Transportation last October won re-election Friday, despite efforts by the House leadership to dump them.


DOT board Chairman Mike Evans, who faced the most intense opposition, won 13-10 over House Speaker Glenn Richardson's preferred candidate, former Rep. Stacey Reece, for the 9th District seat.

Mr. Richardson and other House leaders favored Rep. Vance Smith for DOT commissioner and worked hard to beat DOT board members who had voted for Ms. Abraham to lead the state's road-building and transportation planning agency.

In the 12th District election, incumbent Raybon Anderson, of Statesboro, won 15-12 in a district that is evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats, defeating former Rep. Ben Allen of Augusta, a Democrat.

A third candidate, former Sen. Floyd Griffin, was eliminated on a first ballot, which revealed merely by the numbers that at least four Republicans did not side with Ms. Anderson.

DOT board members are elected by state lawmakers who represent areas that comprise the state's congressional districts, where only one of the 17 members of the caucus from the House side is not a Republican.

The 9th District was always the bigger battle, and it showed in the faces of members of the 9th District caucus as they gathered for the vote.

Throughout the session there has been talk of pressure, threats and intimidation -- not entirely unknown in DOT races.

Rep. James Mill, R-Gainesville, addressed that after the results were made known.

"This whole process has sickened me," he said.

There were no surprises in any of the other three DOT races except for the 2nd, where former board member Ward Edwards dropped out before the vote.