Democrats got their revenge against party-switching state Rep. Doug McKillip, R-Athens.
Driven by strong bipartisan support in Clarke Countyâ€”including evidence of heavy crossover voting by Democrats in the GOP primaryâ€”Regina Quick ousted McKillip 20 months after he stunned Democrats by leaving the party just weeks after he was named to a leadership post.
â€œWeâ€™d love to have a Democrat running in that race, but redistricting made the seat much more conservative,â€ state party chairman Mike Berlon said. â€œInstead, we focused our efforts on increasing Democratic turnout in a Republican primary, an extremely difficult thing to do.â€
Republican House dealers drew a district tailor-made for McKillip last year, and his campaign out-fundraised Quick’s by a five-to-one margin. Quick prevailed by casting McKillip, who says he became a born-again Christian in 2009, as an untrustworthy newcomer to GOP politics.
“It restored my confidence,” Quick said. “It took a village. It was a team effort and proved that when people band together, people triumph over politics as usual.”
The margin was just 64 votes, 50.4 percent to 49.6 percent, so a recount is likely, although computerized voting means the results would change by only a vote or two, if at all. [Update: McKillip told the Athens Banner-Herald he won’t seek a recount.} Quick won 63 percent of the vote in Clarke County, while McKillip won by slightly smaller margins in Oconee, Jackson and Barrow counties, where social conservatives warmed to his anti-abortion bill that angered Athens Democrats.
Frye’s race wasn’t so close. He beat state Rep. Keith Heard, D-Athens, 55 percent to 45 percent. Heard enjoyed strong support in his home base of East Athens, but Frye, a Cobbham resident who accused Heard of voting with Republicans, won by overwhelming margins in liberal neighborhoods along Prince Avenue and on the Eastside. Carter Kessler, a libertarian activist, easily won the Republican nomination for the heavily Democratic seat, besting Christopher Perlera 68 percent to 32 percent.
Allison Wright defeated David Ellison by just 24 votes in the Athens-Clarke Commission District 4 race, centered around Five Points, which had an oddly low turnout of only 624. “I’m thankful to all who voted me in,” Wright said. “It is a vote of confidence. I understand from working on the board of education the importance of listening to the people and making decisions based on that input, and I’m ready to do that on the commission.”
Jerry NeSmith won in a landslide over Ron Winders in District 6, on the Westside, 64 percent to 36 percent. “I will continue to learn and listen to the committees that are just beginning to work to improve the business climate of our county step right in after my swearing-in in January,” NeSmith said. “But most of all I will listen the ideas of our businesses and neighbors.”
State Sen. Frank Ginn, R-Danielsville, and U.S. Rep. Paul Broun, R-Athens, easily cruised to victory over Danny Yearwood and Stephen Simpson, respectively. Broun won 69 percent of the vote and Ginn 68 percent. In Athens’ other congressional race, Republicans Martha Zoller and Doug Collins are virtually tied at 42 percent headed into an Aug. 28 runoff.
A 1 percent sales tax for transportation failed miserably, losing by a 65-35 margin in Northeast Georgia, despite winning 52 percent of the vote in Clarke County. A Sunday sales referendum won support from 71 percent of Athens voters and will take effect Aug. 26.
Pete McCommons contributed quotes to this article.
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