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Two Athens Statehouse Races Look Like They’ll Be Extremely Close

State Rep. Houston Gaines. Credit: Lee Becker

State Rep. Houston Gaines’ comments to Oconee County Republicans were unvarnished.

“We both have a significant challenge coming up in November,” Gaines said, speaking for himself and Rep. Marcus Wiedower. “It’s going to be a real fight.”

Gaines was speaking at the end of July when the Oconee County Republican Party opened its campaign headquarters at 1050 Barber Creek Drive, off Mars Hill Road.

State Sen. Bill Cowsert made a similar comment at the party’s meeting in August, saying “If we don’t get out and vote for them, it (a defeat) can happen.” 

Neither Gaines nor Cowsert gave details for their concerns, but the reasons can been seen in the numbers from the June 9 primaries.

Democrat Mokah Jasmine Johnson got more votes running unopposed in the Democratic Primary for the 117th House District on that date than Gaines got running unopposed in the Republican Primary.

In the 119th House District races, Wiedower got more votes running unopposed in the Republican Primary than Jonathan Wallace got running unopposed in the Democratic Primary.

But Wallace did better in traditionally Republican Oconee County than Wiedower did in traditionally Democratic Clarke County, and that could be a problem for Wiedower come Nov. 3 if Clarke County turnout increases.

The June 9 primaries were just that, and it is impossible to know how well the data from them will translate to the fall general election.

But projections, based on the data from June 9 and Sept. 1 registration data for the two districts, indicate that if turnout is proportionate to registration in all counties that make up the districts, Johnson would win, and Wiedower and Wallace would end in a virtual tie—separated by only a few votes.

For more, visit Oconee County Observations.