Lucas, Paris gear up for state Senate runoff

ATLANTA -- Former state Rep. David Lucas will have another try at beating incumbent state Sen. Miriam Paris.

The two initially were involved in a July 2011 three-candidate special election after the late Robert Brown gave up the seat to run for mayor of Macon. Paris was elected in a runoff one month later.

She will again face Lucas in a Democratic runoff Aug. 21, after neither of them garnered 50 percent of the vote in Tuesday’s primary.

A couple hundred more votes “and we wouldn’t be talking about a runoff,” lamented Lucas, when Wednesday dawned on primary results that put him about 200 ballots away from an outright win.

He captured 12,573 votes to Paris’ 11,640. A third candidate, Irving Martinez, took 1,324 votes, according to results that will be certified by the state by next week.

“It’s quite obvious the people like the record David Lucas had, not the record she had,” Lucas said. “The problem is, we don’t turn out as well. White voters -- Republicans -- turned out in their numbers.”

Lucas listed major projects he takes credit for delivering to Bibb County in his 34 years in the state House, such as wooing Geico to locate to the area. He said his history in the Legislature gives him a negotiating edge over Paris.

He’s also a tireless critic of the Macon-Bibb consolidation bill that Paris signed.

Lucas thinks the new government’s nine-member commission could have enough Republican members to unilaterally stop any legislation the GOP opposes.

But Paris rejected that as divisive.

“It’s time for us to elect people of character and integrity that are going to fight for the progress and betterment of the whole community,” she said.

She accused Lucas and his allies of repeating a mantra about race and political representation.

“The divisiveness of the race issue is something that all of Bibb County is trying to get away from,” Paris said.

The election may hinge on Lucas’ and Paris’ ability to tempt voters out for the runoff, which is likely to be the only thing on many ballots in the District 26 state Senate race. That district includes much of the city of Macon and east Bibb, a northeast corner of Houston County, south Jones County plus all of Wilkinson, Washington and Hancock counties.

“We’ll be canvassing, we’ll be calling, encouraging voters to return to the polls,” Paris said.

Lucas said he lacks Paris’ campaign cash but got votes by “running a campaign in the street.”

In the second quarter of 2012, she raised some $40,000 to his $6,700.

Meanwhile Martinez, whose friends are calling him a “spoiler,” said he will withhold any endorsement until he sees Paris and Lucas debate the issues.

He also said he thinks he will run for a seat in the new consolidated county commission.

The winner of the Senate runoff faces Republican Bobby Gale in the November general election.