There's nothing predictable about Election Day. Sure, some candidates are odds-on favorites to win, and do. But there are always a handful of races and issues that produce surprises. So it was Tuesday in Georgia, where there were a few stunners and several close calls in statewide balloting.
The biggest surprises were in races between Walker County Sole Commissioner Bebe Heiskell and Paul Shaw, and between incumbent Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit District Attorney Herbert "Buzz" Franklin and Doug Woodruff. Franklin won by 43 votes. Heiskell triumphed by less than 250. Shaw says he will seek a recount. Woodruff likely will do the same.
That's each candidate's right, though such requests often do not fare well. Woodruff appears to have a stronger case with less than 50 votes separating the candidates for a post that serves four counties. A recount that shifts even a few votes and the addition of heretofore uncounted provisional or military ballots could change the outcome.
Shaw's effort seems less viable given the margin of Heiskell's victory. Indeed, even the question of a recount in the commissioner's race is permissible remains to be determined.
Elsewhere in Northwest Georgia, incumbents generally fared well, though there were a couple of mild upsets and a few races -- most notably for sheriff in both Catoosa and Dade counties — that will require runoffs later this month. Issues on the ballots seemed to follow form as well.
Mot observers expected Whitfield County voters to approve a 1 percent sales tax increase for city and county schools. Varnell voters were expected to approve Sunday alcohol sales. Those forecasts proved true. In Dade County, pre-election sentiment seemed to back taxpayer support for the public library. Tuesday's advisory vote confirmed that by an overwhelming majority. There's no certainty that the straw poll will prompt county officials to adopt a more proactive view toward the library, though it should.
Voters across the state, for the most part, delivered a thumping defeat to the proposed 1-cent Transportation Special Local Option Sales Tax (T-SPLOST). The defeat ends the possibility of a statewide transportation-specific tax hike. It does not eliminate the state's need to update transportation infrastructure. Ultimately, Georgians still will have to pay for construction and repairs.
Georgia voters have spoken for the moment. In doing so, they've provided fodder for both post-election analysis and for the formulation of predictions about fall elections to come.
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