Two Middle Georgia candidates in the recent statewide primaries are plotting their next moves after what appear to be — for now — narrow losses.
Max Wood, a former U.S. attorney, just missed making the Aug. 10 runoff for the Republican nomination in the attorney general’s race. And Terry Coleman, a former state representative and speaker of the House, lost an even closer race in his bid for the Democratic nomination in the labor commissioner race.
Coleman, of Eastman, lost to Darryl Hicks, the Fulton County Commission chairman’s chief of staff, by just 479 votes statewide.
Coleman, who formerly served as deputy agriculture commissioner, said he intends to ask for a recount if the narrow margin holds after the vote is certified this week.
Never miss a local story.
“It’s sort of like checking your change when you hand someone a $20 bill. You’ve got to be sure it’s the right number. It’s just good business sense,” the 66-year-old said.
He said he did better than he expected he would statewide, given what he called a cash-strapped campaign budget and the limited amount of time he had to win support across the state.
But he also said he was underwhelmed at the lackluster support he received from Bibb and Houston counties. He lost Houston County by two votes, 1,671-1,669, and the margin in Bibb was more than 1,300 votes, 5,059-3,726.
“It was a little disappointing, given the strong ties I have to Macon and Warner Robins,” Coleman said.
He said he wants to wait and see how the final vote turns out before planning his next move. He said he’s unsure if he’ll make another political bid or not.
“I’m not making any decisions yet, because things can always change overnight. As Herman Talmadge once said, 24 hours is a lifetime in politics,” Coleman said.
Macon native Max Wood, 50, attributed his narrow defeat to the heftier corporate donations routed to his opponents, Sam Olens and Preston Smith, who he said spent too much time “hobnobbing with fat cats” in the Georgia Legislature.
Wood trailed second-place finisher Smith, a state senator for the Rome area, by 6,579 votes, or 1.1 percent. That is slightly more than the margin required to seek a recount.
But Wood said he’s not admitting defeat until all the absentee ballots have been counted and the vote is certified, which could happen Monday. He said he hopes he can pick up the 600 additional votes necessary to get a recount.
“There’s still a chance I could get enough for a recount, and who knows what could happen then?” Wood said.
Wood said he intends to fight to the end because he doesn’t think his opponents represent Georgia — or the Republican Party — well.
“I think Republicans are going to regret nominating either one of them. Both (Olens and Smith) are big in the Legislature, and that’s why they had so much money donated to them. That money tends to come from vested interests.”
“This has been a really frustrating election because I thought people were ready for new blood in politics, but apparently they only wanted whoever had the most money to pay for robocalls.”
Wood said he’s also concerned that the Republican Party in Georgia has become oversaturated with politicians from the Atlanta area, saying he was the only candidate who doesn’t live “north of I-20.”
“There’s more to this state than just Atlanta,” he said.
Wood said he was grateful for the support he received from Middle Georgia voters. He won by healthy margins in Bibb, Houston, Peach and Monroe counties.
Assuming he doesn’t get a recount, Wood said he plans to quit politics for good and return to private law practice in the Middle Georgia area.
“It’s not really my problem anymore,” he said. “I’m looking forward to returning to being a private citizen.”
To contact Telegraph writer Carl Lewis, call 744-4347.