Staton has slim lead over Price in Senate race

ATLANTA -- State Sen. Cecil Staton, the Senate’s No. 3 Republican, appeared to eke out a close win Tuesday over a political newcomer.

Staton, R-Macon, the Senate majority whip, held a slim lead over Price, 10,518 votes to Price’s 10,311, in the Senate District 18 race.

Price was the first Republican to challenge Staton since 2004. Both men stood on conservative platforms, though Price’s had a valuable plank from Georgia Right to Life, which endorsed him because he rejects laws allowing certain abortions. Staton emphasized his positive ratings from business groups, including the Georgia Chamber of Commerce and the National Federation of Independent Business.

Some questions about Staton’s behavior and business dealings might have hurt him. This year, e-mails critical of other Senate Republicans came out of his office under a fake name. And Georgia Southern University is pursuing Staton’s media company for money it says it is owed for rights to broadcasting their football games.

Money did not match outcome. In the second quarter of 2012, Staton raised about $115,000 for the campaign to Price’s $13,000.

Price and Staton are contesting the 18th District, which covers Monroe, Upson, Crawford, Peach counties and west Bibb County.

Incumbent Democratic state Rep. Nikki Randall looked likely to easily defeat challenger Gerald Harvey by hundreds, if not thousands, of votes in House District 142.

As a legislator since 1999 and the longest-serving one from Bibb, Randall led her colleagues’ negotiations about the Macon-Bibb consolidation proposal as well as new maps of political districts. It earned her attacks from consolidation foes who sought a different proposal or said it would dilute black voting strength.

District 142 includes part of Macon and runs south through Bibb, ending at the Peach County line.

And as votes were being counted late Tuesday, challenger Burt Jones looked ready to upset Republican incumbent state Sen. Johnny Grant.

Their 25th District protrudes a few miles into north Bibb County, making its senator part of the team that negotiates legislation that only affects Bibb County. So-called local bills govern things such as the Macon Water Authority and other city or county bodies.

To get the job, the Republican must now beat Democrat Darrell Black in November and, if successful, would bring Bibb’s delegation to Atlanta to five Republicans and three Democrats. The district also includes north Jones County, all of Baldwin, Jasper, Butts, Putnam, Morgan, Greene and part of Walton counties.

Taylor County Commissioner Patty James-Bentley and businessman Tom Coogle will meet in an Aug. 21 Democratic runoff for state House District 139 The two bested the third candidate, Michael Dinkins of the Peach County Commission.

The seat came open with the retirement of state Rep. Lynmore James this year. There’s no Republican challenger in the district, which comprises south Peach plus Dooly, Macon and Taylor counties.

Democrat Ed Harbison beat challenger Reginald Pugh in state Senate District 15.

The district expanded this year from a Columbus-area seat held by Harbison since 1992 to a seven-county stretch including all of Macon County. Republican David Brown meets Harbison in November.

And John Clements failed to unseat Eastman Republican state Rep. Jimmy Pruett. There is no Democrat challenger, so Pruett heads back to Atlanta. The 149th District comprises all of Dodge, Telfair and Wheeler Counties, plus part of Laurens and Jeff Davis.