Originally created 11/06/02

Democrat heads toward win in House District 97



Though he fell behind early in the race to represent District 97 in the Georgia House of Representatives, by early Wednesday William Quincy Murphy was leading his Republican opponent, Otis Smith, by a significant margin.

Mr. Murphy had received 5,197 votes, or 64.2 percent, while Mr. Smith had 2,894 votes, or 35.3 percent, with 12 of 17 Richmond County precincts reporting, and six write-in votes.

Mr. Smith said he was not ready to concede the race.

"I'm trailing right now, but I have the confidence," he said.

The race for the seat began after attorney Ben Allen announced that he would run in the Democratic primary for the 12th District congressional seat. Mr. Allen was defeated in the primary by Charles "Champ" Walker Jr.

Mr. Murphy, an insurance agent and a former member of the Augusta-Richmond County Coliseum Authority, devoted his campaign to encouraging economic development, attracting a cancer research center to the area, making teachers' salaries more competitive and improving airline service and accessibility.

Mr. Smith, a pastor and community activist, said he hopes to provide blacks with a voice in both parties. He planned to focus on conservative values and the need for minority representation in the General Assembly.

In the House District 98 race, incumbent Democrat Henry Howard appeared on his way to re-election, having collected 4,328 votes, or 73.4 percent, leading his Republican challenger, Davida Johnson, who had 1,568 votes, or 26.6 percent.

Reach Ashlee Griggs at (706) 823-3552 or ashlee.griggs@augustachronicle.com.