U.S. Rep. Tom Graves finished first for the fourth time in as many months on Tuesday, winning the runoff for the Republican nomination for the 9th District seat in Congress, the seat he currently holds.
With 99 percent of precincts reporting according to the Secretary of State’s website, Graves, from Ranger, had 41,869 votes (55.2 percent). Former state senator Lee Hawkins of Gainesville, who finished second in the July 20 GOP primary, got 33,961 votes (44.8 percent). Graves won 14 of the district’s 15 counties. He lost Hall County, Hawkins’ home county.
No Democrat qualified, so Graves is expected to be the only person on the November general election ballot for the seat.
The runoff marked the fourth time in as many months that the two men faced off for that seat and the second time they met in a runoff.
Graves defeated Hawkins in a June 8 special election runoff by 56.5 percent to 43.5 percent to determine who would fill the unexpired term of Nathan Deal, who stepped down to concentrate on his run for governor.
Graves carried Whitfield County on Tuesday with 3,537 votes (55.77 percent) to 2,805 (44.23 percent) for Hawkins. Graves carried Murray County with 973 votes (59.37 percent) to 666 (40.63 percent) for Hawkins.
“We are certainly humbled that the voters of the district have elected us to represent them and be their voice,” Graves said. “We look forward to doing that for a full term. It has certainly been a long and colorful campaign season for everyone, and we are ready to move forward.
“We will be spending time making sure that our offices (including one in Dalton) are up and running and able to meet the needs of constituents. We’ll also be bringing our economic advisory council together as well and get some ideas there for Congress.”
Hawkins said he was disappointed but vowed to continue to fight for conservative ideas.
“We fell short tonight, but the issues are still there. I’ll be going back to dentistry, but I’ll continue to work on the issues, especially health care. I worked on health care long before I was ever in the Senate,” he said. “Just because you aren’t sitting in one spot doesn’t mean you don’t work to make things better.”
Some Dalton voters said Tuesday they did not mind having to vote so often for this one post.
“Whatever it takes to get it figured out,” said Dan Trow.
Turnout was up significantly in Whitfield County on Tuesday from the June special election runoff, 18.63 percent of registered voters compared to 10.9 percent. It was also up in Murray County, 9.69 percent compared to 6.25 percent.