In a race still too close to call Tuesday night, Lee Anderson led Rick Allen by fewer than 200 votes in the Republican runoff for the District 12 seat in Congress.
Less than 1 percent of total votes separated Anderson and Allen. Allen did not concede defeat Tuesday and could be eligible to ask for a recount. The Associated Press declined to call the race Tuesday.
“We’re going to wait until all the votes are counted,” said Scott Paradise, Allen’s campaign manager. “We still feel confident we may end up winning this thing. We’ll look at all our options tomorrow morning.”
Anderson, a Grovetown farmer, lost Columbia and Richmond counties but carried the 19-county district, winning 13,778 votes (50.28 percent), while Allen, an Augusta businessman, received 13,625 votes (49.72 percent), according to unofficial vote totals from the Georgia Secretary of State’s office.
Anderson would not make himself available to The Augusta Chronicle for comment, citing time constraints, but political director Scott Knittle confirmed that despite the narrow margin of 153 votes between the two candidates, Anderson was declaring himself District 12’s new congressman.
“Tonight we’re claiming victory,” Knittle said. “Of course a recount may be a possibility if this in fact is the margin, but tonight we’re declaring victory.”
In a victory speech, Anderson declared it was time for all the candidates in the District 12 race to unite against Democratic incumbent John Barrow.
“Tonight we won a battle and tonight we start a war,” he said. “This is what it is all about. Our families. Our homes. We are giving freedom back to the people of District 12 and we’re sending John Barrow and Obama home.”
In a speech to supporters, Allen said he was not conceding the race but doubted the 153 votes would appear Tuesday night.
“This time, I thought all the stars lined up,” he said. “My goal, really for the last 10 years, the more I grow in my faith, is to serve Jesus Christ in whatever he would have me do. I felt this was a calling.”
Allen, who owns a successful contracting business and spent $1.1 million on the primary and runoff, acknowledged: “It didn’t go exactly as I planned.”