Lucas, other familiar faces win re-election

mlee@macon.comNovember 6, 2012 

ATLANTA -- Macon Democrat David Lucas is on his way back to the state Legislature, winning a two-year Senate term Tuesday after 37 years in the House.

But as a Democrat, he’s in a smaller minority than ever, as the GOP carries the most seats in modern history.

“I’d like to thank a lot of folks who did a lot of street work. Our message got out,” said Lucas, reached by phone minutes after getting a concession call from his opponent, Irwinton Republican Bobby Gale.

Lucas hammered Gale in Bibb County, the most populous in District 26, winning nearly 70 percent of the votes overall, with nearly all precincts reporting.

District 26 runs from the city of Macon through all of Twiggs, Wilkinson, Washington Jones and Hancock counties, plus parts of Bibb and Houston counties.

Lucas first tried for the state Senate in 2011, but he lost a special election. His priority for the coming term is education funding.

“I’m going to get to work in the morning,” he said.

Macon gets a new Republican state senator as Jackson Republican Burt Jones captured 63.7 percent of the vote to win over Milledgeville Democrat Darrell Black in District 25. Since a boundary redraw last year, the district includes three precincts in north Bibb. That makes Jones one of the eight legislators who will decide on any bills that affect Bibb County alone, such as tweaks to the Macon-Bibb consolidation plan.

The district also includes all of Jasper, Morgan, Putnam, Greene, and Baldwin counties and parts of Walton and Jones counties.

Incumbents return to House

Incumbent state Rep. Rusty Kidd, I-Milledgeville, will represent Baldwin County and south Putnam, winning about 53.8 percent of the votes in District 145 and beating Democrat Quentin T. Howell of Hardwick.

Incumbent Dry Branch Republican state Rep. Bubber Epps bested former Wilkinson County school board member Mary Ann Whipple-Lue in District 144, picking up about 64 percent of the vote. The district covers Twiggs, Wilkinson and Bleckley counties, plus parts of Laurens, Jones, Bibb and Houston.

And state Rep. Matt Hatchett, R-Dublin, will return to the Capitol, defeating Democrat Sheikh Rahman, also of Dublin, 13,793 to 6,691.

District 150 covers all of Treutlen plus parts of Laurens and Johnson counties.

A handful of close races in other parts of the state could give the GOP as much as a two-thirds majority in the state Legislature. Senate Democratic Caucus Executive Director Liz Flowers said such GOP numbers “mean you get one set of ideas, one set of expectations without having the input of Democrats who represent some two million voters.”

The state Legislature meets for 40 days starting in January. The lawmakers are expected to hear proposals to reform and cut costs in both the juvenile and adult criminal justice systems. Changes to the tax code may be on the agenda and perhaps a cap on lobbyist gifts. Legislators must also approve a smaller budget than the $19.3 billion in state spending already planned for the fiscal year that began this July.

Republican Gov. Nathan Deal has already told state agencies to cut 3 percent to 5 percent from their budgets for next year.

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