Habersham County will have a lot of fresh faces on the Board of Commissioners, as former Demorest councilman Bruce Harkness upset two-term Commissioner Natalie Crawford on Tuesday night for the seat in District 4.
Harkness got 3,597 votes (51.9%) to 3,330 for Crawford (48.1%).
“I appreciate the working men and women of this county voting for me,” Harkness said Monday night. “Natalie worked eight years hard for the county and she is to be applauded, but I think people were ready for a change. I look forward to working for the people of Habersham County.”
Crawford was disappointed she would not be able to serve a third term on the county commission.
“I am not surprised by this result when you have a low turnout like this,” Crawford said. “In special elections or off-time elections like runoffs, it seems like the people who want change show up in larger numbers. It is disappointing that a little more than 20% of the voters made a decision for the future of the entire county.”
In District 1, Habersham County was guaranteed a new commissioner, and Bruce Palmer won a close race to take the seat over Jeffery Lunsford.
Palmer received 3,349 votes (51.9%) to 3,110 for Lunsford (48.1%)
“I want to thank everyone who voted for me and supported me through this campaign,” Palmer said Tuesday night. “I can’t wait to put in the work to make Habersham County a better place to raise our families. I look forward to the challenges ahead.”
Lunsford thanked his supporters as well and stated that COVID-19 likely hurt the turnout of the runoff.
In the Georgia House, former Habersham County chairman Victor Anderson won a resounding victory over White County challenger Robert Crumley to earn the Republican nomination. Anderson will face off with Democrat Nick Mitchell in November.
Anderson unofficially received 5,206 votes (61.4%) to Crumley’s 3,275 (38.6%).
“I feel great about the support that I received and it is humbling,” Anderson said Tuesday night. “ I am really looking forward to November and hoping that I am able to secure a similar result so that I can get started doing the work for Habersham and White counties.”
The Georgia Senate District 50 race was too close to call with Bo Hatchett leading Stacy Hall by a slim 34-vote margin - 12,482 to 12,448 unofficially. No one conceded the race Tuesday night and there could be a recount pending certification of the results.
Andrew Clyde, Devin Pandy winners in 9th Congressional District runoffs
By Dave Williams
Capitol Beat News Service
Gun shop owner Andrew Clyde handily defeated state Rep. Matt Gurtler Tuesday in a runoff for the Republican nomination for Georgia’s 9th Congressional District seat.
Clyde, who led Gurtler 56% to 44% with 95% of the vote counted, will face Democrat Devin Pandy in November in the contest to succeed U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, R-Gainesville, who is leaving the House to run for the U.S. Senate.
While Clyde has never run for public office, he touted his experience suing the Internal Revenue Service successfully in 2013 after the federal agency confiscated more than $940,000 from his company. He subsequently testified before Congress in support of legislation prohibiting the IRS from seizing legally earned money.
Gurtler, elected to the state House of Representatives four years ago, ran afoul of Georgia Republican leaders for constantly voting against GOP-backed bills, earning him the nickname “Dr. No.”
In his defense, he argued many of those measures gave government more authority than it was intended to have under the Constitution. That small-government stand drew the support of the Club for Growth, a national limited-government organization that funded television ads attacking Clyde.
Another group, Protect Freedom PAC, paid for ads touting Gurtler’s status as the most conservative lawmaker in the General Assembly who would serve as an ally to President Donald Trump.
Opposition to Gurtler prompted many state Republican leaders to back Clyde, a Navy veteran who served 28 years including three combat deployments in Iraq and Kuwait.
He grew the small firearms business he launched in his Athens garage in 1991 into a nationwide company with two locations.
Pandy, an actor and Army veteran, captured the Democratic nomination to oppose Clyde by trouncing Brooke Siskin. With 95% of the vote counted, Pandy held 68% of the vote to just 32% for Siskin.
Pandy pledged to become a voice for rural Georgia in Washington, D.C., and to push for improved services for the nation’s veterans. He also advocated an aggressive push to combat climate change and a pathway to citizenship for young people brought illegally to the U.S. as children.
Siskin maintained during the campaign that her experience as a business owner would help prepare her to serve in Congress, as would her activism on behalf of victims of domestic violence.
She was arrested in Gwinnett County last month for refusing to comply with a court order to turn over guns and ammunition in her possession.
Clyde enters the general election campaign as a heavy favorite in the conservative heavily Republican 9th District, which covers northeastern Georgia from Gainesville and Athens north to the North Carolina and South Carolina lines.