The Georgia Senate race between lawyer John Kennedy and doctor Spencer Price see-sawed for hours Tuesday night, until Kennedy took a late lead.
But the rematch between incumbent state Sen. David Lucas and his three-time opponent Miriam Paris in District 26 was never close. Lucas stayed ahead by about two to one all evening.
Results from Bibb County, where the 48-year-old Kennedy is an attorney, provided his surge. Of the 15,943 votes recorded by midnight -- which appeared to be final totals -- Kennedy led by 2,033 for the District 18 seat being vacated by retiring state Sen. Cecil Staton.
Late efforts to reach Kennedy for comment were unsuccessful.
In contrast, at the same time Lucas was ahead of Paris by about 3,700 votes with roughly 15,000 votes counted, and that included most votes from Bibb.
This was Kennedy’s first run for elective office. Price, 49, has made three tries for the General Assembly and came close to unseating Staton in the 2012 primary. The winner of Tuesday night’s Republican primary is expected to take office, since there is no Democrat in the race.
Kennedy said his priority was cutting taxes and regulations on business, and cutting environmental regulations on farmers. He’s managing attorney at his firm, James-Bates-Brannan-Groover LLP.
Price, a Monroe County Hospital emergency room physician, said he wanted to fight the implementation of the Affordable Care Act in Georgia, and he opposes the Common Core educational standards.
Reached by phone Tuesday night, his campaign deferred comments until final results were in.
In the other closely watched Senate race, Lucas, 64, spent 37 years in the House before running for the Senate in 2011. He lost to Paris then but came back and won in 2012.
Paris, 53, is a Realtor and former Macon City Council president.
Lucas’ path to the seat is now clear. He has no Republican opponent.
In this year’s legislative session he fought for improvements to rural health care in the wake of many local hospital closings.
Reached about 11:30 p.m. Tuesday, Lucas thanked voters for sending him back to the Senate and appreciating his work.
“We worked hard these last two years to try to do things in these seven counties,” he said. “I promise that I will be working for them under the Gold Dome.”
Rural health care will continue to be a major issue for Lucas, as the newly formed task force on the subject meets in early June for the first time, he said.
Rural areas are vital to Georgia as the source of food, Lucas said.
“They deserve to have health care too,” he said.
Lucas and Paris clashed on Macon-Bibb County consolidation, with Lucas denouncing the change to nonpartisan elections for the new countywide commission. His wife, Elaine Lucas, is a Macon-Bibb commissioner.