Barry Loudermilk, making the transition from State House of Representatives to State Senate, won the race for Senate District 52 as incumbent Rick Jasperse retained his State House seat gained via special election earlier this year for House District 12.
With 99 percent of precincts reporting, the Georgia Secretary of State website reported 75.1 percent of the District 52 vote going to Loudermilk for a total of 27,729 votes to Democrat Mike Burton's 24.9 percent, or 9,210 votes. As of press time, only 80 percent of precincts were reporting on the SOS website for House District 12 with 85.7 percent of the vote going to Jasperse for a total of 12,156 votes to Jerry Nally's 14.3 percent, or 2,036 votes.
Catching up with candidates as results were being tallied, Loudermilk was among friends. Jasperse could not be reached by press time.
"It's a good attitude here and a lot of excitement. We're especially excited with the strength of the numbers," Loudermilk said. "That shows us that our message is right, that this is a very conservative district. We've been on target the last six years the way that we've legislated on core, conservative principles."
Expounding on the switch from house to senate, Loudermilk noted that little will change as he sticks by his values and the message he has gathered from the district.
"We're just going to continue doing what we've been doing the last six years in the house. It just broadens us out to a district about three times the size of what we represented before. No changes as far as what we're going to do, we're just going to be representing more people. So we're just going to keep on keeping on."
As conservative issues become commonplace in national mainstream media and Tea Party rallies gain attention across the country, Loudermilk addressed the need for such movements and the importance of increased public involvement. Altering the words of Barbara Mandrell's 1981 hit, "I Was Country When Country Wasn't Cool," he used the lyrics to describe his relationship with the Tea Party.
"I guess I was Tea Party before there was one so as the Tea Parties organized I was already there in the midst of them. Basically the Tea Parties have gotten more people involved and pushing conservatives even further in the conservative values to get back to the values and principles of our founding fathers," Loudermilk said. "I think it's been very important. There's more activism, more people getting involved."
The headline grabbing Tea Party events and national hype was transferred to local races via voter turnout as expectations doubled that of the July primary. Final turnout numbers will be determined later, but according to those at the polls, attendance was strong throughout the day.
"Floyd County and Bartow both expected 50 percent or better and I think Gordon was looking at the same. I think that is very encouraging to us to have high turnout in a non-presidential election year," Loudermilk said, adding that he addressed a Tea Party organization on election night about keeping up momentum. "You can't stop here. The vision has to go beyond today; it has to go to 2012 and it has to go to 2014. And now we have to hold those of us that were elected accountable to do what we said we were going to do."
As his district seemingly grew overnight, Loudermilk looks forward to representing District 52 in the Georgia Senate.
"Thank you to all those that supported me in this campaign and supported me in the past and I look forward to serving everyone," Loudermilk said.