That means Rick Allen will face Lee Anderson in the Aug. 21 runoff. The final tally had Anderson with 20,551 votes, or 34.22 percent; Allen with 15,436 votes, or 25.71 percent; McLeod with 14,856 votes, or 24.74 percent; and Maria Sheffield with 9,207 votes, or 15.33 percent.
McLeod was allowed a recount of votes cast across the district’s 19 counties because the difference between his and Allen’s totals was less than 1 percent of votes cast. Thursday’s recount added one Burke County vote to McLeod’s total.
In a statement, McLeod said he’d hoped the recount would show a different result but conceded his place in the runoff to Allen.
“All of us in the Republican family want to nominate a qualified candidate of high character so we can defeat John Barrow in November,” McLeod said. “I congratulate Lee Anderson and Rick Allen, one of whom will be that person.”
Allen dogged McLeod before the primary, filing a Federal Elections Commission complaint about his campaign disclosures, and McLeod later amended them at the FEC’s request.
Appearing indifferent to the recount Thursday were Anderson and Allen, who attacked each other in new advertisements.
Allen assailed Anderson’s record in the Georgia House, calling his vote for the Transportation Investment Act an “$800 million tax increase.” Area voters approved the 1 percent transportation sales tax July 31. The Augusta region was one of only three in the state to approve it.
Allen also condemned Anderson’s 2010 vote for House Bill 1055, which imposed a “bed tax” on hospitals to help bridge the state’s Medicaid gap.
In a ready response, Anderson’s campaign said the bed tax was part of larger tax reforms that also cut income taxes on senior citizens and eliminated a portion of state property taxes.
As for the transportation tax, Anderson called Allen a hypocrite for criticizing the new sales tax while “funding his campaign with the millions he has made off of taxpayer-funded government projects” such as sales tax-funded schools built by R.W. Allen and Associates, Allen’s Augusta construction company.
It was unlikely that the recount would have changed the certified results Thursday, Richmond County elections officials said as they reloaded 486 memory cards filled with individual precinct results into card readers at the Board of Elections warehouse in south Augusta.
“I guess there’s an outside chance that some county somewhere failed to load a memory card, but to my knowledge it’s never happened,” Board of Elections Executive Director Lynn Bailey said.
Said elections board member L.C. Myles: “I’m just going by past recounts; there hasn’t been a wide deviation. It’s not like we have chads or hanging chads.”
Barrow, a four-term Democrat who moved to Augusta after his Savannah home was redrawn out of the 12th, was unopposed in the primary. His campaign released a statement Thursday praising the Federal Trade Commission for taking action against Google for tracking online customers. He also announced a job fair Saturday at Augusta State University.