Voter turnout was relatively low, coming in at 22 percent, although Bartow County Elections Supervisor Joseph Kirk said it was expected. He expressed his disappointment with the small crowds but did comment positively on the voting process and the use of new equipment to scan driver's licenses for day-of voter registration.
"Turnout was about what we expected. It ended up at 22 percent, we called it at 20 [percent]. You know I'm always disappointed with such a low turnout being called good but it was about what we expected," Kirk said. "Everything went fairly smooth today and there's always hiccups on election day but everything went real well. Our new scanners operated absolutely beautifully, I think everybody loved them."
State House District 14, as covered in Wednesday's issue of The Daily Tribune News, will likely come down to a runoff election between Christian Coomer and Shep Helton.
The Democratic race for District 14 was another close call with only 66 percent of Floyd County precincts reporting at press time Tuesday. After the remaining results came in, Dan Ledford retained his lead over Jessica Weaver-Stoll by a mere 39 votes. According to the Secretary of State, Ledford held 549 votes over Weaver-Stoll's 510 votes. All results are considered incomplete and unofficial until certified.
"It was a really close race and we were watching it to the end and we finally got official, official confirmation -- I guess it was about one o'clock [Wednesday] morning where we really looked at it and it was pretty much saying it's a done deal," Ledford said. "Now it's time to turn our face to November and hopefully I can win in November and then go ahead and start doing what the people want us to do."
In preparation for the general election, Ledford hopes to bring out more Democrats as well as members of other parties in November. Looking back over the primary race, he was pleased with the contest and his opponent.
"I think my race in general went well for the resources that I had and I was extremely grassroots and had like a half-shoestring budget," Ledford said. "It was a good race. I think Jessica did very well as far as it was a clean fight, there was no bad stuff. We both pretty much want the same thing we just felt like we could both do it and the voters decided they wanted me to go forward and do it on the Democratic side. And hopefully in November I can convince a lot of Independents and bring a lot of Democrats out there so they'll go ahead and vote and we can get this done."
State House District 15 was decided Tuesday with the nomination of incumbent State Rep. Paul Battles, R-Cartersville. Battles carried 3,360 votes with opponent Hayden Collins taking 1,570 votes. Battles will stand alone on the November ballot as he faces no Democratic opposition.
In the state Senate, Bartow voters went to the polls to decide nominees for two seats. In Senate District 52, former State Rep. Barry Loudermilk, R-Cassville, won the nomination over Jeff Knight with 8,847 votes and 3,376 votes respectively. Loudermilk will go on to face Democrat Mike Burton in November.
State Senate District 31, however, was a much closer race between incumbent Bill Heath, R-Bremen, and former Tallapoosa mayor Pete Bridges. Winning by a margin of less than 1,000 votes, Heath commanded 8,842 votes to Bridges' 7,931 votes.
"It was a little closer maybe than I had expected but not a whole lot closer," Heath said. "A close race is good for any politician. It just reminds you that the people do have a voice out there and the people do count and it's just a good reminder -- nobody is invincible."
The race, though tight, was not quite the contest Heath hoped for. His criticism targeted the inaccessibility of his opponent throughout the campaign.
"I was a bit disappointed in the way that it turned out in so far as we tried repeatedly to get him in front of groups of people where there was a little more accountability for the message," Heath said. "We had I think 10 opportunities where we were invited to address a group of people and he got all the same invitations and didn't show up. I think people deserve to know their elected officials."
As for the race ahead, Heath said he will continue what he has done for the primary as he prepares for the November general election in which he will face Democrat Tracy Bennett.
Heath, who defeated Bennett in 2006 and 2008 by an almost 2-to-1 margin, said a wave of anti-incumbent sentiment could unfairly affect the election.
"I understand that there is some anti-incumbent sentiment out there but I really have faith in the people that live in northwest Georgia will be able to separate the state races versus what's going on in Washington [D.C]. I think that's the main thing that is driving the frustration with the anti-incumbent vote," Heath said. "We'll keep doing what we've been doing. The general race is a totally different process than the primary but generally speaking we'll keep doing what we've been doing. My message is the same and I think things will come around and I would expect November's results to be similar to the results from two years ago."