A plurality of Republican voters in Bulloch County agreed Tuesday with the majority of GOP voters throughout the 12th Congressional District in preferring Rick Allen to four other primary candidates.
However, only 46 percent of Bulloch voters had given Allen the nod in the county's unofficial final count, while he had almost 54 percent of the vote districtwide, with 17 of 19 counties reporting as of midnight.
The Associated Press called the race for Allen, who will face incumbent Democrat John Barrow in the November general election.
The raw count in Bulloch County was 1,962 votes for Allen, while Delvis W. Dutton was in second place here with 1,305 votes, or 30.7 percent. Other local counts were 602 votes for Eugene C. Yu, 282 for John E. Stone and 97 for Diane S. Vann.
Dutton fared better with Bulloch voters than districtwide. As of midnight, Eugene Yu was running a distant second to Allen across the district, with 16.5 percent of the voters to Dutton's 14.3 percent.
Allen, 62, from Augusta, owns R.W. Allen LLC, an Augusta-base construction company. He also ran for the 12th District Republican nomination in 2012, losing in a runoff to Lee Anderson. Dutton, 36, is currently the District 157 member in the Georgia House of Representatives, but is not seeking re-election to that seat to run for Congress instead.
On the street leading past the Brooklet voting precinct, two Allen signs and one Dutton sign appeared in each direction. Voting there, Paul Bradley Sr., 57, who works in construction, chose Dutton.
"Believe it or not, I want somebody different in there," Bradley said. "I just like his message. He's an outsider, and as far as I'm concerned we can pretty well get rid of everybody in government. We need new people in office."
Charlie Howell, an Army civilian employee in his late 40s, also voted the Republican ballot. Declining to say whom he chose, Howell said the 12th District U.S. House race was probably the one he thought most about.
"I kind of hate the primaries because it's almost like cannibalism," Howell said. "They eat each other, and then the last dog standing gets to be in the real fight."
In other congressional races across the state, Rep. Hank Johnson of Lithonia had 55 percent of the vote Tuesday in his Democratic primary race against Tom Brown, according to unofficial returns with 21 percent of precincts reporting. After 13 years as DeKalb County sheriff, Brown gave up his badge this year to challenge the four-term congressman. No Republicans were seeking the 4th District seat, so the primary alone will decide who goes to Washington.
Republicans were headed for July 22 runoffs in primaries jammed with candidates for three open U.S. House seats vacated by Republican congressmen who opted to run for the U.S. Senate.
None of the six Republican candidates got more than 50 percent of the vote in Rep. Jack Kingston's 1st District in southeast Georgia, forcing the race into a runoff July 22. State Sen. Buddy Carter of Pooler finished as the clear front-runner. The second runoff slot was too close to call as former Newt Gingrich aide John McCallum of St. Simons Island and Savannah physician Bob Johnson battled for runner-up. In the Democratic primary, Amy Tavio of Richmond Hill advanced to a runoff with Marc Smith and Brian Reese of Savannah in a close race for second-place.
In east Georgia's 10th District, pastor and talk radio host Jody Hice of Monroe will compete in a Republican runoff with trucking company owner Mike Collins of Jackson, whose father is former Georgia congressman Mac Collins. They finished neck-and-neck among seven GOP candidates seeking the open seat of Rep. Paul Broun of Athens.
In metro Atlanta's 11th District, state Sen. Barry Loudermilk of Cassville led a six-way Republican primary race for the seat being vacated by Rep. Phil Gingrey of Marietta. Unofficial returns showed former Georgia congressman Bob Barr of Smyrna in second place with a good chance of forcing a runoff. Also running were state Rep. Ed Lindsey of Atlanta, Tricia Pridemore of Marietta, Allan Levene of Kennesaw and Larry Mrozinski of Woodstock.
Three of Georgia's incumbent congressmen — Republican Reps. Lynn Westmoreland of Sharpsburg, Doug Collins of Gainesville and Tom Graves of Ranger — easily defeated primary opponents Tuesday. Democratic Rep. David Scott of Riverdale had a strong lead over a primary challenger.
The rest of the state's 14 congressmen ran unopposed in the primaries.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.