Goddard concedes to Marshall in 8th District race

U.S. Rep. Jim Marshall held off another Republican gunning for his job Tuesday night, but this time he won a comfortable victory.

Marshall, D-Ga., will head back to Washington for his fourth term representing the 8th Congressional District. He won 55 percent of the vote, according to incomplete numbers from the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office. Retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Rick Goddard won 45 percent, with 91 percent of all precincts reporting.

It was a far cry from 2006, when former U.S. Rep. Mac Collins pushed Marshall to the brink in one of the most closely watched, and well funded, congressional races in the country. This year, Marshall even won heavily Republican Houston County, where Goddard served as head of the Warner Robins Air Logistics Center.

“I’d like to think that two years ago they took their best shot,” Marshall said Tuesday night. “We had almost $5 million spent against us. ... It wasn’t the same (this year).”

Indeed, this year’s race was far less expensive for both candidates, and third-party groups didn’t dump money into the district like they did in 2006. But Goddard still drew high-powered support from national Republicans, getting district visits from Vice President Dick Cheney, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and House Minority Leader John Boehner.

But that and a grass roots campaign that said it knocked on tens of thousands of doors wasn’t enough. Goddard called Marshall to concede the race relatively early in the night, when the vote spread made the outcome clear.

“I said Jim, you know, I think you’ve run a good race. ...” Goddard said. “I appreciate the race we both had the chance to run.”

Marshall said he expects to head to D.C. in a couple of weeks for a lame duck session that will focus on a potential new economic stimulus package.

“Obviously we’re not going to do much without the agreement of the (new) president,” he said.

“And next year we’re going to go through a lot of soul searching where the regulation of our financial markets are concerned,” Marshall said. “And I just hope we don’t do that with too heavy a hand.”

As in 2006, Houston County was key to the race. Collins won the heavily Republican county then, but not by enough. This year, incomplete numbers showed Marshall winning the county by more than 1,000 votes.

Marshall showed a commanding strength in Bibb County, taking 70 percent of the vote. And he benefited from increased voter turnout and population increases since 2006 in the district’s more rural areas. In county after county, Marshall ran stronger against Goddard than he did against Collins.

The 8th District leans Republican, making it coveted target for the GOP every two years. But ever since Marshall won the area in 2002, national Republicans have been up against local sentiment for the former Macon mayor and his relatively conservative voting record.

“Of course Goddard, really, I believe will do the same things (as Marshall),” Charles Smith said Tuesday as he and his wife, Sue, went to vote Marshall for Congress and John McCain for president. “We just don’t have a voting record on him.”

Telegraph staff writer S. Heather Duncan contributed to this report.