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Voters not turning out for Georgia Senate race

Voters not turning out for Georgia Senate race

Voters not turning out for Georgia Senate race


ATLANTA — A relatively small slice of the electorate will participate in Republican primaries in Georgia and Kentucky, despite international attention and eye-popping sums of money heaped on races that will help determine which party controls the Senate during the final two years of President Barack Obama's tenure.

Candidates are making multiple campaign stops urging voters in both states to defy forecasts of abysmal participation in Tuesday's elections. Turnout in primaries across the nation is notoriously low, but the dynamic stands out in a midterm election year defined by widespread antipathy toward the president and all of Congress.

"Voters feel very distrustful right now and voters are frustrated and angry right now," said former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel, one of the front-runners among seven Republicans who want to replace retiring Sen. Saxby Chambliss.
Another top contender, Rep. Jack Kingston, said Monday: "We're trying to work as hard as we can for a reasonable turnout."

Republican hopefuls in Georgia have spent more than $14 million combined so far trying to reach about 5 million active registered voters in a state with 10 million residents. Yet several candidates and their aides say they expect 600,000 or fewer ballots cast, with the top two vote getters advancing to a July 22 runoff. About 680,000 ballots were cast in a heated Republican primary for governor four years ago when there were 4.9 million active registered voters.

The eventual nominee is expected to face Democrat Michelle Nunn, former Sen. Sam Nunn's daughter, in November.
Georgia voters don't register by party and can choose either party's primary ballot but not both.

The primary is two months earlier than usual after state Republican leaders moved the date to bring state and local primaries in line with court-ordered earlier federal elections.

Polls suggest Kingston, Handel and businessman David Perdue will contend for runoff spots, though Reps. Paul Broun and Phil Gingrey are within striking distance.

Kingston expressed optimism that several races for lower offices, including the House seats he, Broun and Gingrey are giving up for their Senate bids, will attract enough voters to exceed turnout expectations.

Republicans need to gain a net of six seats to regain control of the Senate, and they can ill afford to lose in Georgia.

Democrats view Nunn and a Kentucky candidate as their best — and perhaps only — opportunities to swipe GOP-held seats.

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