Dublin urologist Dr. Pablo Santamaria won Tuesday’s Democratic runoff election for state House District 143, putting him one step closer to his goal of filling DuBose Porter’s vacated seat.
Santamaria edged out attorney Mitch Warnock in a 2,457-2,331 vote. He will now face Republican Matt Hatchett in November’s general election.
Santamaria celebrated his victory by tailgating and drinking lemonade with his friends and family outside the Laurens County Courthouse.
“I feel amazing and so grateful for this chance to serve Laurens and Johnson counties,” Santamaria said.
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In July’s primary, Santamaria trailed Warnock by more than 500 votes and only narrowly beat out attorney Dan King and political consultant Claudia Graham for a spot in the runoff.
Santamaria said he was able to come from behind and win Tuesday because he attracted the support of former King and Graham voters.
“After the primary, (King) put my campaign signs up outside of his place of business, and I hired (Graham) as my political consultant, so I really feel like I did a good job getting the support of the other candidates who didn’t make it to the runoff,” Santamaria said. “I couldn’t have done it without them.”
Santamaria said he’ll make job creation and state education the top talking points in his upcoming campaign against Hatchett, a small business owner and member of the Dublin City Council.
“I’d like to be someone who can unify this district along social lines and racial lines,” Santamaria said.
Santamaria also said he supports low taxes but acknowledged it’s important to be realistic when making campaign promises about taxes.
“There’s only so much a state representative can do, and you’ve got to be responsible with it,” Santamaria said.
The race for the Democratic nomination began earlier this year after Porter, who had held the seat for 27 years, stepped down to run for governor but was unsuccessful in his bid. Santamaria said he is confident in his ability to pick up where Porter left off.
“I really feel like I’ve got what it takes and am going to keep doing what I’ve been doing so far,” Santamaria said.
Vote totals are not official until verified by the Secretary of State’s Office.