ATLANTA — The Republican challenger to U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop conceded defeat Wednesday in their race in Georgia, where Rep. Jim Marshall became the state's only incumbent Democrat ousted from Congress by the GOP.
GOP candidate Mike Keown left a message with Bishop's campaign Wednesday morning after unofficial tallies showed the incumbent Democrat ahead by about 4,500 votes in southwest Georgia's 2nd District, said Andrew O'Shea, Keown's campaign manager.
"With that kind of a gap, we just wanted to do the right thing and concede," O'Shea said.
The Associated Press initially called the 2nd District race for Keown based on early returns Tuesday. The call was later withdrawn when Bishop took the lead early Wednesday with 99 percent of precincts reporting. The Associated Press was awaiting the tabulation of provisional and absentee ballots before calling the race.
Bishop of Columbus has represented the district for 18 years. Keown is a state lawmaker and pastor from Coolidge.
In middle Georgia's 8th District, four-term congressman Marshall of Macon fell Tuesday to GOP candidate Austin Scott. Marshall was Georgia's only congressional incumbent to lose his seat as Republican gains nationally gave the GOP control of the House.
"He is a tough candidate and we beat him because we ran a better campaign," said Scott, a 40-year-old state lawmaker and insurance broker from Ashburn. "My team stayed focused on jobs and the economy. When he went into personal attacks, I think it hurt him."
Unofficial returns showed Scott with 53 percent of the vote to Marshall's 47 percent, with 99 percent of precincts reporting.
Marshall conceded the race and called Scott to congratulate him late Tuesday, said Doug Moore, Marshall's spokesman.
The rest of Georgia's incumbent congressmen kept their seats Tuesday.
Rep. John Barrow of Savannah, another Democrat counting on his record of bucking party leaders, defeated Republican Ray McKinney in eastern Georgia's 12th District.
With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Barrow had 57 percent of the vote to McKinney's 43 percent. McKinney, a nuclear power project manager from Lyons, raised little money despite an endorsement from former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.
Seeking a fifth term, Marshall, 62, stressed his vote against Obama's health care overhaul and sought to distance himself from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, saying in the campaign's final weeks he wouldn't vote to keep her as speaker.
Scott, a 40-year-old insurance broker from Tifton, sought to undercut Marshall's support among conservatives by reminding voters the Democrat supported $787 billion in stimulus spending and a $290 billion increase in the government's debt limit. He also argued that Marshall, despite his independence, was ineffective at blunting the Democrats' agenda.
Bishop, 63, spent much of his bid for a 10th term explaining why his office steered scholarships from the nonprofit Congressional Black Caucus Foundation to family members and others connected to him and his wife.
Keown, 56, said Bishop "violated the public trust" with the scholarship awards. He criticized the congressman's vote for Obama's health care overhaul. Bishop said he did not know his family members had received the scholarships and returned the money when he found out.
In Georgia's only open House seat, Republican Rob Woodall of Lawrenceville won his race to succeed his old boss, retiring GOP Rep. John Linder, in metro Atlanta's 7th District. Woodall, Linder's former chief of staff, defeated Democrat Doug Heckman of Norcross.
Of the remaining nine House incumbents on the ballot, three Republicans — GOP Reps. Tom Graves of Ranger, Phil Gingrey of Marietta and Tom Price of Roswell — drew no Democratic opposition.
Coasting to re-election was the rest of Georgia's House delegation: Republican Reps. Jack Kingston of Savannah, Lynn Westmoreland of Sharpsburg, Paul Broun of Athens and Democratic Reps. Hank Johnson of Lithonia and John Lewis and David Scott of Atlanta.