Former Macon City Council President Miriam Paris and former state Rep. David Lucas are headed to a runoff in their bid for the state Senate 26 seat.
It will be another month -- Aug. 16 -- before the district get a new senator, however.
With nearly all votes counted, Paris finished with about 45 percent of the vote, Lucas had 39 percent and Republican Bobby Gale had 16 percent.
Paris, who captured more than 7,500 votes, was not immediately available for comment.
Lucas, who polled more than 6,200 votes, said those were not the numbers he was expecting. “The Republicans got involved in the Democratic” race, he said, in “full force against David Lucas.” He added that he’s looking forward to a television debate with Paris.
The ultimate winner takes the place of Robert Brown, the state Senate minority leader who left the state Capitol to run for mayor of Macon.
It will be the first time either candidate has represented a rural area: The seat covers east Macon, a sliver of Houston County, most of Wilkinson and all of Twiggs.
In fact, Gale easily carried his home county of Wilkinson, nearly equaling the votes of Paris and Lucas put together.
The result will be key to the prospect of Macon-Bibb government consolidation. The state House passed one plan this year that was authored by the GOP-dominated Macon-Bibb delegation. A different plan came from the area’s senators. Lucas has vowed to stick to that plan. It puts an elected sheriff in charge of law enforcement and mandates partisan elections for the merged city and county council.
Paris wants an appointed chief law enforcement officer, she has said, so that the officer would be immediately responsible to the government. She’s also in favor of nonpartisan local elections. That puts her a little closer to the House plan rather than the Senate one.
Either way, a majority of voters countywide would have to approve the political merger,
The eventual winner will miss the first day of work. The state Legislature is expected to start meeting from Aug. 15 to work on reapportionment: redrawing district boundaries based on new population numbers from the U.S. census. Gov. Nathan Deal can instruct the Georgia General Assembly to stick to the redraw, or he can allow them to take up any business.
Indeed, Twiggs and Wilkinson have lost population since 2000 and until a draft map is published, there’s no hint what may happen to the rural-urban 26th state Senate district in which Lucas or Paris will be sitting.
Whenever the Legislature takes up regular business again, whether in summer or in January 2012, they’ll hit play on a couple of items left on pause when the session ended in April.
The main feature will be a proposal to change the state tax code so that it taxes consumption, such as groceries and services, instead of income.
Lucas is dead set against the plan. Paris has said the state tax code needs changing, but she would have to study the specifics of any proposal.