Originally created 11/06/02

House Speaker loses after 40 years in office



House Speaker loses after 40 years in office

ATLANTA - The nation's longest-serving legislative speaker lost Tuesday after more than four decades in office.

Democratic Rep. Tom Murphy, a west Georgia Democrat first elected in 1961 and named House Speaker in 1974, lost to Republican challenger Bill Heath, trailing by 800 votes with 26 of 32 precincts reporting.

The drawling 78-year-old outlasted four governors but lost his 22nd bid for office as his district slowly became more and more Republican.

"This is something we've had a lot of people waiting a long time for," said Mr. Heath, who was born the same year Mr. Murphy first took a seat in the state House.

Mr. Murphy said he could have preserved the Democratic makeup of his district but wanted to ensure that representatives in neighboring areas kept their seats.

"I had a good run. I guess it's time to put me out to pasture," Mr. Murphy said. "I'm not sad - I'm sort of relieved because I don't have to worry about the budget next year. Life goes on."

Mr. Murphy's defeat was one of many shocking Democratic losses in a state the party has controlled for more than 120 years.

Edgefield County schools get Jackson on board

Mary Alice Jackson beat District 1 opponents Tony Fulmer and Dorothy Owens on Tuesday night with 51 percent of the votes in the Edgefield County school board race.

District 2 representative Andy Livingston and District 5 representative Louise S. Talbert ran unopposed.

Mrs. Jackson, 67, is a retired health educator who worked for the state Department of Health and Environmental Control for 20 years. She beat Mr. Fulmer and Ms. Owens with 328 votes to their respective totals of 188 and 126.

Mrs. Jackson said she has lived in Johnston all her life and has volunteered in Edgefield County schools through the local foster grandparents program for the past three years.

Republican wins seat on North Augusta council

A Republican was victorious Tuesday in the North Augusta City Council race.

Jimmy Adams defeated Darrell Blocker, the first Democrat to run in that district since 1987, with 77 percent of the vote. Mr. Adams received 3,799 votes to Mr. Blocker's 1,163 votes.

Mr. Adams will immediately replace Kent Sullivan, a Republican councilman who resigned in July after receiving his second DUI arrest in 13 months.

"I wanted to serve, and the voters showed their support," Mr. Adams said at about 10 p.m. "Now it's up to me to represent all of them."

Mr. Adams must run for re-election in April, when Mr. Sullivan's term would have expired.

Oxendine will return as insurance commissioner

Georgia Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine will return to office.

Mr. Oxendine easily defeated Democrat Lois Cohen, with 64 percent of the vote to 34 percent.

Libertarian Helmut Forren followed with 3 percent.

Agriculture commissioner wins ninth election

Georgia Democrat Tommy Irvin, who has been agriculture commissioner since 1969, won a ninth election.

Mr. Irvin had 58 percent of the vote over Republican Deanna Strickland's 39 percent.

Libertarian Doug Morton had 4 percent.

Thurmond defeats McGee for labor commissioner

Georgia Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond, a Democrat, got 51 percent of the vote to overcome Republican Richard McGee, who had 46 percent of the vote.

Libertarian William Costa had 3 percent.

Incumbents split races for Georgia PSC

In the Georgia Public Service Commission races, Republican Doug Everett led incumbent Democrat Earleen Sizemore 51 percent to 49 percent.

Incumbent Lauren "Bubba" McDonald was leading Angela Speir 48 percent to 46 percent. Libertarian James W. Harris had 5 percent.