Originally created 11/06/02

Burmeister is set for win



With her seat eliminated during redistricting, Georgia Rep. Sue Burmeister appeared to defeat Democrat David Bell in her bid to return in House District 96.

With 14 of 20 precincts reporting, Mrs. Burmeister led Mr. Bell 4,244 to 3,490. The winner will succeed House Speaker Pro Tempore Jack Connell, D-Augusta, who chose to retire this year after 34 years in the General Assembly.

"I listen to the people, and I'm out here with the people," said Mrs. Burmeister, who defeated veteran Rep. Robin Williams to win her seat in 2000. About 40 percent of her old district was configured into the 96th.

Mr. Bell raised about twice as much campaign money as Mrs. Burmeister, $120,000 to $61,000, and his yard signs were prominent throughout the district. But it was the Republicans' night, he said.

"I got caught by a tidal wave," said Mr. Bell, who ran as Mr. Connell's chosen successor.

The race held overtones from an unsuccessful congressional campaign Mr. Bell waged against U.S. Rep. Charlie Norwood in 1996. Mrs. Burmeister received $3,750 from the Norwood campaign political action committee, Georgia's Best PAC, and Mr. Norwood sent out a letter on her behalf criticizing Mr. Bell as a liberal.

Reach Tom Corwin at (706) 823-3213 or tomc@augustachronicle.com.