With a bit over half the statewide votes in for Georgia’s primary, most of the major races have been decided, or are close to being decided.
In the Democratic gubernatorial primary, Roy Barnes has easily won without a runoff, currently beating Attorney General Thurbert Baker by a 62-21 margin (with Dubose Porter and David Poythress well back at 6% and 7%). Barnes is winning heavily African-American urban counties with even more than his statewide percentage, so race did not turn out to be a factor in this contest.
In the Republican gubernatorial primary, Karen Handel is definitely going to finish first; she’s at 32%, but her home county, Fulton, is largely still out, so her percentage is likely to rise. Nathan Deal is running second at 25%, and will probably finish there, though there is a remote chance that Eric Johnson, with 19%, could overtake him when his base county, Chatham (Savannah) reports. John Oxendine is also at 18%, but has no major areas of strength left; his collapse after leading the polls for many months is one of the major stories of the primary.
If Handel and Deal do emerge as runoff rivals, this will also set up a surrogate fight between Sarah Palin, who’s backing her fellow Mama Grizzly, and Georgia’s own Newt Gingrich, who’s supporting his former House colleague Deal.
In congressional races, 12th district incumbent Democrat John Barrow has again defeated Regina Thomas, though not by the huge margin he enjoyed two years ago; when Chatham County reports, he could fall below 60%.
4th district incumbent Democrat Hank Johnson appears to be narrowly winning without a runoff, though former Dekalb County CEO Vernon Jones gave him a bit of a scare.
In Republican primaries, the 9th District’s Tom Graves, who won a special election runoff just last month, looks to be stuck in another runoff, probably with the same opponent, Lee Hawkins, assuming Hawkins’ home county, Hall, comes in for him with the expected landslide.
In the 7th District primary to succeed John Linder, the incumbent’s former chief of staff, Rob Woodall, in something of a surprise, is finishing first in an eight-candidate field, and the expected front-runner, Clay Cox, is fighting for his political life against Christian Right talk show host Jody Hice for a runoff spot.
In the 8th District primary to choose an opponent for vulnerable Democratic Jim Marshall, Ken DeLoach is giving expected winner Austin Scott a real battle, though Scott is hovering right about the 50% percentage needed to avoid a runoff.
And in the 12th District primary for the right to take on John Barrow, as expected, Tea Party favorite Ray McKinney and Carl Smith are headed for a runoff.
The other major news in this primary was the turnout, which was abysmal even by Georgia standards, and may not surpass 20% of registered voters.
UPDATE: Nathan Deal did indeed hold off Eric Johnson in the Republican gubernatorial primary, with 23% of the final vote, and will face Karen Handel (whose final percentage was 34%) in the runoff on August 10. Johnson finished with 20% and Oxendine with 17%.
Turnout in the Democratic gubernatorial primary (with 18 precincts still out) was 388,000, and in the Republican gubernatorial primary, 674,000. That works out to a turnout rate (there is no registration by party, so it can’t be divided) of just under 22%, which is below the 25-30% estimates going into election day.
Hank Johnson won the Democratic renomination without a runoff in the 5th congressional district, and Austin Scott won the Republican nod in the 8th without a runoff. As predicted earlier, Tom Graves was knocked into a runoff in the 9th district by Lee Hawkins, which means the two candidates will be running against each other for the fourth time in three months. And also as predicted earlier, Chatham County pushed John Barrow’s winning percentage over Regina Thomas in the 12th below 60%. The big shocker of the night was probably in the 7th district Republican primary, where Rep. Clay Cox, who was endorsed by the entire statewide Republican leadership, was knocked out of a runoff spot by talk radio host Jody Hice, who will face Rob Woodall on August 10.