All three Republican candidates won their races Tuesday night in midstate General Assembly contests.
Milledgeville Republican Ricky A. Williams is set to make his first trip to Atlanta as a lawmaker in January. As the last precinct counted votes, Williams had outdistanced Democrat Floyd Griffn Jr. by about 3,000 votes.
“We’re very excited, and we look forward to tomorrow and starting on this journey, start working to make Baldwin and Putnam counties prosperous and pulling things together. We’re just so excited,” said Williams, reached by phone.
Williams is a funeral director who in the past has been a county commissioner and the county’s registrar, its chief election official. His House District 145 covers all of Baldwin County and part of Putnam.
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Williams’ win brings the GOP a new seat in the state Legislature. He’ll replace Rusty Kidd, the only independent in the Georgia General Assembly. Kidd decided not to run for re-election this year.
The GOP will hold about two-thirds of seats in the Legislature next year. Republicans don’t always vote together, but two-thirds is an important threshold. It takes two-thirds of lawmakers to set up referendums on changes to the state Constitution.
Elsewhere, state Rep. Bubber Epps, R-Dry Branch, is set to return to Atlanta for House District 144.
With some ballots yet to be counted late Tuesday, he had more than twice the number of votes of Democrat Joyce Denson. The district covers all of Bleckley, Twiggs and Wilkinson counties, plus parts of Bibb, Houston, Jones and Laurens counties.
And Republican Greg Kirk of Americus will return to Atlanta as the state senator for Senate District 13. The district covers all or part of Dodge, Dooly, Sumter, Crisp, Wilcox, Turner, Worth, Lee and Tift counties. He had about twice as many votes as Democrat challenger Ruenett Melton, with most of the votes counted late Tuesday.
All the winners packed big cash advantages.
Incumbents can roll over cash and loans from previous campaigns. In January, before campaigning really started, Epps reported about $12,000 cash on hand. The same month, Kirk reported a loan from himself to his campaign of $80,000, just ahead of reporting about $106,000 cash on hand.
Both Republicans have since raised thousands of dollars.
Epps’ and Kirk’s Democratic challengers each raised roughly $2,000 this year, according to state filings.
Williams reported raising nearly $80,000 from the beginning of the primary through nearly the end of October. That counts contributions from others plus cash he loaned his own campaign.
Griffin reported raising about half that sum over the same time in both contributions and self-funding.