January 7, 2014

Florence, Tarvin set for runoff

Charles Oliver
charlesoliver@daltoncitizen.com

— And then there were two.

Steve Tarvin and Neal Florence are headed to a Tuesday, Feb. 4, runoff for state House of Representatives District 2.

Neither man took a majority in the three-way special election for that post Tuesday. The Georgia of Secretary of State’s website showed Tarvin finished first with 1,072 votes (38.15 percent), Florence finished second with 964 votes (34.31 percent) and Doug Woodruff came in third with 774 votes (27.54 percent).

District 2 includes parts Trichum, Tunnel Hill and Westside in Whitfield County and parts of Catoosa and Walker counties.

“We had a lot of people working hard for us,” said Tarvin, a businessman and former Chickamauga City Council member and school board member. “We are excited by the results and looking forward to campaigning in the runoff. We were running against two very good candidates, and we are very pleased we ended up on top.”

Florence, a pharmacist and former mayor of LaFayette, also thanked his supporters.

“I appreciate the support I have gotten. I have a bunch of friends who have done a lot of work as far as putting up signs, making phone calls and talking to their friends. I really appreciate that, and I’m looking forward to the runoff campaign,” he said.

The Secretary of State’s website reported 9.11 percent of eligible registered voters turned out for the election, but both Tarvin and Florence said that was actually higher than they expected given the weather and the fact that two major holidays fell during the campaign.

“When I ran for Congress (in 2010) we had just 12 percent turnout in that race,” Tarvin said. “For whatever reason, most people just don’t come out to vote in special elections.”

While normally turnout drops for a runoff, Florence said he hopes that it won’t fall too much this time.

“These people have shown they care about the race, and I think they’ll come out for the runoff,” he said.

The winner of the runoff will fill the unexpired term of Jay Neal, which concludes at the end of this year.

Neal, a Republican, stepped down in November after being appointed by Gov. Nathan Deal as executive director of the Governor’s Office of Transition, Support and Re-entry, which helps integrate prison inmates into society.