Evans lawyer Wright McLeod is holding off conceding the second-place finish in Tuesday’s Republican primary for the District 12 seat in Congress.
Preliminary results Wednesday showed McLeod trailing Augusta businessman Rick Allen by 584 votes, with all counties reporting but provisional ballots not yet counted.
In an afternoon e-mail, McLeod left his options open.
“We are now considering our next steps,” he said. “I must consider whether or not a recount would be in the best interest of voters of the 12th District. Our campaign recognizes that requesting such would provide a ‘trust but verify’ approach to the election results and allow us all to move forward.”
Meanwhile, Allen resumed campaigning as though his place in the runoff weren’t in question. He reached out to donors by phone and joined a long lunch line of patrons at an Augusta Chick-fil-A on a day when conservatives were showing support for a restaurant executive’s recent comments on family and marriage.
“Until we’re notified of anything different, we’re full-speed ahead,” said Allen, who was already casting the GOP campaign as “a two-man race” between himself and voter leader Lee Anderson.
Still, Allen stopped short of calling on McLeod to concede.
“It’s up to Wright,” Allen said. “It’s in his court, and we’re just waiting for him to make that call.”
Election officials said Wednesday only 35 overseas absentee ballots that were mailed out for the primary remained unreturned in the district. It was unclear how many provisional ballots might still be added to the vote total. Secretary of State Brian Kemp doesn’t expect to certify official election results until Monday or Tuesday, spokesman Jared Thomas said.
McLeod would have two business days to ask for a recount if the official margin between him and Allen is 1 percent of the vote or less.
Anderson also plunged back into campaigning for the runoff, making calls Wednesday to reconnect with donors and raise money for the coming weeks, said Reagan Williams, his campaign manager. He said the candidate wasn’t concerned about who would be his runoff opponent.
“I don’t think it matters,” Williams said. “We have our message, and we believe the winning message to be ‘beat John Barrow.’ ”
Anderson came out on top with 34 percent of the votes Tuesday night. That put him more than 5,000 votes ahead of Allen and McLeod, who took roughly 25 percent of the vote apiece. Dublin lawyer Maria Sheffield finished last with 15 percent.
McLeod, Allen and Anderson all staked six-figure sums of their own money, for a combined total of $668,000 – or about 57 cents for every dollar the candidates raised from outside donors.
The fall general election against incumbent Democrat John Barrow is sure to be expensive, too. Barrow has $1.3 million to defend his seat, and the runoff winner will benefit from $900,000 the National Republican Congressional Committee has pledged to spend in the district on television advertising.