Lucas defeats Paris in Senate race

Former state Rep. David Lucas pulled out a narrow win over incumbent Miriam Paris in Tuesday’s runoff for the state Senate District 26 seat.

Lucas had 8,649 votes to Paris’ 8,428, based on final tallies from the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office. He will face Republican Bobby Gale of Irwinton in November’s general election.

Paris won five counties in the district -- Jones, Twiggs, Washington, Wilkinson and Hancock -- but Lucas took Houston and Bibb counties, and the margin of victory in Bibb -- 1,751 votes -- pushed him ahead.

Paris conceded the race at her Third Street headquarters late Tuesday, but despite his commanding lead in Bibb, Lucas was not ready to declare victory, at least not until all the votes from Hancock County were counted.

“I don’t declare anything, only to wake up in the morning to find out it’s changed,” Lucas said outside his campaign headquarters on Forsyth Street.

“Hancock is what I worry about, not that I think anything’s wrong with the reporting. Those rural counties are big. I couldn’t afford to pay somebody there to call it in to me. This was a poor man’s campaign, what you call a street fight.”

Lucas outpolled Paris in the July 31 primary by more than 900 votes out of more than 25,000 cast. Lucas said he spent the last few weeks campaigning in rural counties, sometimes making two trips a day to Washington County.

“What I want to say to the voters is how much I appreciate them showing confidence in my ability to go back up there and get things done for this district, if that turns out to be the case,” he said.

Paris and Lucas met in a runoff in last year’s special election to fill the District 26 seat vacated by the late Robert Brown, the former state Senate minority leader who left to run for mayor. Paris, a former Macon city councilwoman, won by more than 2,000 votes.

Lucas stepped down after 37 years in the House to run for the Senate seat.

During this campaign, like last year’s, he painted Paris as a “Republican pawn” who signed off on new area voting maps that Lucas said diluted minority voting strength in Macon.

That included a new map for District 26 that added more rural voters by adding Washington and Hancock counties and southern Jones County.

Paris refuted those claims by describing herself as a “fourth-generation Democrat.”

The campaign heated up late when a mailer arrived in homes last week accusing Lucas of being “asleep on the job” during his long legislative career. The flier, which featured a photo of Lucas yawning on the House floor, was sent out by a group calling itself Georgia Forward.

A nonpartisan group by the same name has said it did not publish the flier, noting that the address on the mailer belongs to an Atlanta law firm connected to the GOP and that the flier was likely mailed by the political action committee Georgia Forward.

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