The retirement of Republican U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss set off a political game of musical chairs that will be partially settled with Tuesday’s runoff election.
Three congressmen from Georgia – Jack Kingston of Savannah, Paul Broun of Athens and Phil Gingrey of Marietta – left the House of Representatives because they wanted to replace Chambliss.
A crowd of politicians then competed for a chance to be elected to those vacant House seats.
The winners of Tuesday’s primary runoff will be their party’s nominee for November’s general election. Here’s a look at those races:
1ST DISTRICT: State Sen. Buddy Carter of Pooler won the Republican primary runoff against Bob Johnson, a Savannah surgeon backed by local tea party groups.
Early, unofficial returns showed Carter winning about 54 percent of the vote. He is seeking to replace Kingston, who held the seat for more than two decades.
Savannah UPS supervisor Brian Reese won the Democratic primary with about 63 percent of the vote against real estate agent Amy Tavio of Richmond Hill.
10TH DISTRICT: Minister and conservative talk radio host Jody Hice of Monroe beat trucking company owner Mike Collins with about 54 percent of the vote in the GOP runoff. Hice is seeking to replace Broun, a fundamentalist Christian. Collins’ father is former Republican Rep. Mac Collins.
11TH DISTRICT: State Sen. Barry Loudermilk of Cassville, a tea party-backed candidate, beat former U.S. Rep. Bob Barr of Smyrna, who was trying for a comeback in the district north of Atlanta held by Gingrey. Barr helped lead impeachment of President Clinton. Early returns showed Loudermilk winning nearly 69 percent of the vote.
STATE SCHOOL SUPERINTENDENT
The current superintendent, John Barge, mounted an unsuccessful challenge to incumbent Gov. Nathan Deal in the Republican primary.
The Republican primary proved too close to call late Tuesday night. Unofficial tallies showed longtime Irwin County educator Richard Woods with just over 50 percent of the vote against Michael Buck, the chief academic officer at the Georgia Department of Education. Just over 700 votes separated the two candidates, or less than 1 percent of the ballots cast. Under state law, Buck could request a recount.
The winner will face Democrat Valarie Wilson, the former chairwoman of the Decatur School Board. She won 54 percent of the vote against state Rep. Alisha Thomas Morgan in the Democratic primary runoff.
About 12 percent of registered voters cast ballots in statewide Republican and Democratic primary runoff races on Tuesday, compared with roughly 19 percent in the May primary election.