Rusty Kidd easily outdistanced three other candidates in Tuesday’s special election to represent the Milledgeville area in the Georgia House of Representatives, but he’ll have to win in a runoff to take the seat.
It appears that runoff, scheduled for Dec. 1, will be against Darrell Black, a local business owner who tallied 1,286 votes to Kidd’s 2,433. A candidate must win more than 50 percent of a vote to be elected, and Kidd topped 44 percent, according to the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office.
Local development official Angela Gheesling-McCommon tallied 1,270 votes, which is close enough to Black’s total to trigger a recount if she requests one. The Telegraph’s attempts to reach her Tuesday night were not successful.
There is also the matter of potential provisional and military absentee ballots, which can arrive as late as Friday and be counted. Baldwin County Election Superintendent Todd Blackwell said he didn’t think there would be enough of those to change the election’s outcome, but that won’t be finalized until later this week when the election is certified.
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Kidd and Black both said they’d expected a runoff. Four candidates had sought to replace Bobby Parham in District 141 after he retired to take a seat on the State Transportation Board. Given traditionally low turnout in runoffs, Black said this election will be decided by who can get their voters — and voters who supported other candidates — back to the polls.
“I’m a little disappointed with our numbers,” Black said. “I guess we’ve just got to work harder.”
Kidd said he’ll keep talking about job creation for Milledgeville’s struggling economy and that he “will not get in the gutter and mudsling like some of the others have been doing.”
The Georgia Democratic Party campaigned for Black and against Kidd in this race, sending out mailers describing him as one of “the world’s most dangerous predators” because he operates a Quick Loans business.
The party also called attention to Kidd’s many years as a professional lobbyist and his role in a mid-1990s scandal that saw several legislators and lobbyists, including Kidd, spend a weekend at an island golf retreat with Atlanta strippers hired for the event.
If elected, Kidd will follow his father, the late Culver Kidd, into the House of Representatives. He’ll also be the fourth generation in his family to serve in the House, he said. Black is making his first bid for elected office. He owns Flooring America in Milledgeville.
Casey Tucker, a 22 year old who recently graduated from Georgia College & State University, ran fourth in the race with 524 votes. He built his campaign on a promise of youthful energy, spending cuts and lower taxes.
“For my first time going up against a lot more well-known people, like I said, I’m disappointed ... but I think I’ve got a lot to build on,” Tucker said. “I don’t know if I’ll be back running (for office) in the next year or two, but I’m definitely going to stay involved.”
To contact writer Travis Fain, call 744-4213.