ATLANTA -- Republican Spencer Price will ask for a recount in his primary challenge to Macon’s state Sen. Cecil Staton, which the incumbent appears to have won by 207 votes, a 1-percentage-point margin.
“I appreciate the tremendous support from the voters of the 18th” District, said Price, reached via phone during a break from work Wednesday.
And “if I’m not successful, I will be back,” he added.
Recounts cannot be requested until the vote is officially state certified, probably early next week.
The vote count was a last-minute reversal for Price, who had led Staton throughout hours of ballot counting after polls closed Tuesday night.
“It’s an anti-incumbent year,” said Staton, reflecting on the result early Wednesday morning. “And I understand that as a small business owner.”
Indeed, neighboring incumbent state Sen. Johnny Grant, R-Milledgeville, was unseated by primary challenger Burt Jones.
Staton performed well in west Bibb and northwest Houston, the portion of those counties in the 18th District. They were among the last counties to be tallied in the whole state, helping him surge past Price.
Station finished with 10,518 votes to Price’s 10,311. The final vote tally did not include 35 military ballots yet to be added.
Considering Staton’s 10-to-1 advantage in fundraising in the second quarter of 2012 -- he collected about $115,000 -- and his endorsements from party heavyweights such as Gov. Nathan Deal, it was an unusually close outcome.
The Senate district expanded this year to take in Peach County and Upson County, Price’s home.
Both counties are new to Monroe County-based Staton. And Staton suggested that a hard-fought sheriff’s race in Upson County helped attract a lot of Price’s hometown voters to the voting booth.
“I think I’ve still got to communicate to two counties out of the six who I am, what my background is and what I believe in,” Staton said.
The district also includes Crawford County.
Staton ranks third among Republicans in the state Senate, serving as majority whip. As usual, the caucus will meet after the November general election to choose their officers.
Staton said he had been concentrating solely on the election for months and had not been thinking so much about the caucus. It’s not clear if he will pursue the No. 3 job again.
“I’m going to be honest. There are many ways I can serve the caucus, including committee work, my work on the budget,” he said, concluding, “I’m going to take some time to evaluate what my role will be.”
The winner goes on to Atlanta, since there is no Democratic challenger.