A hard-line Republican came out on top in Tuesday’s contest to replace state Rep. David Stover, narrowly edging out the apparent favorite in the race who had attracted support from several high-profile elected Republicans.
Both Republicans will meet again next Oct. 1 for a runoff, which was the expected outcome of the four-way race.
Philip Singleton, a pilot and veteran, led the night with about 37% of the vote, with nearly 11 percent of the district’s voters weighing in to tap a replacement for Stover.
The runner-up, Marcy Westmoreland Sakrison, who is a private school teacher and the daughter of former Georgia Congressman Lynn Westmoreland, finished the night with about 34% of the vote. She trailed Singleton by just 132 votes. A candidate needed more than 50% to win.
The Democrat in the race, Jill Prouty, a Peachtree City librarian who had hoped to take advantage of a divided local GOP and a growing southwest Atlanta suburb, was a distant third with 22%. Nina Blackwelder, a Republican and nonprofit founder, cobbled together just 7% of the vote.
Sakrison went into Tuesday as the apparent frontrunner, with high-profile establishment Republicans pouring money into her campaign. Sakrison raised about $63,000 in a short period of time.
One of Sakrison’s more notable donors was House Speaker David Ralston, who chipped in $2,800. Stover, the former state representative for the district who stepped down this summer, was part of a small group of Republicans who pushed for Ralston to resign earlier this year.
Singleton, who raised about $36,000, was backed by Erick Erickson, a conservative WSB radio host and a vocal critic of Ralston.
Prouty attracted some financial support from House Democrats and recently posted a photo of her “canvassers” – including a few Atlanta-area House Democratic women, such as state Rep. Beth Moore of Peachtree Corners, who were swept into office last year. Democrats gained 11 House seats in 2018.
Prouty had hoped to make it into a runoff, which could have yielded unpredictable results in a low-turnout special election.
But the district held true to its conservative bend. Stover, who first won the seat in 2012, easily batted away a Democratic challenge just last year when he won 74 percent of the vote.
Some political observers questioned whether the contest could offer clues for what’s to come next year in what will likely be a costly battle for control of the state House of Representatives.
But others have said that was expecting too much from a race settled through a special election in one of the state’s more reliably conservative districts.
By contrast, next year’s matchups will by decided by swarms of voters from across the state who will come out to choose candidates from a ballot that will feature President Donald Trump at the top and now two U.S. Senate races.