It’s finally official: Lee Anderson and Rick Allen advanced to the 12th Congressional District Republican runoff. The winner will face incumbent Democratic U.S. Rep. John Barrow in the November general election.
Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp on Thursday certified the results of the July 31 General Primary Election recount.
The final tally showed Allen, an Augusta builder, beating Augusta real estate attorney Wright McLeod by 580 votes.
Anderson, a state representative from Grovetown and a farmer, easily collected the most votes in the primary but fell far short of the simple majority needed to win outright. Dublin attorney Maria Sheffield, who has endorsed Anderson, finished a distant fourth.
McLeod asked for a recount Wednesday, the day after Kemp initially certified the primary results. That count showed McLeod trailing Allen by 584 votes.
The runoff is scheduled for Aug. 21. Voters can choose between Anderson and Allen, but only if they voted on the Republican ballot in the July 31
Anderson, 55, has made campaign promises to cut every federal agency’s budget by 5 percent, sparing only the Defense Department, and decrease his own congressional salary by 20 percent.
He has run on a platform of balancing the federal budget and cutting wasteful spending. With deep roots in agriculture, he has focused heavily on area farmers.
Allen, 60, is the owner of an Augusta construction company and former board member of the city’s chamber of commerce. He has campaigned on a platform that is pro-business and pro-job growth.
Even before the results were certified, Allen moved forward as though his slot in the runoff was a sure bet. Two days after the primary, he poured $250,000 of his own money into his campaign account — bringing the businessman's total personal investment in the race to $540,000. Allen also began running new TV ads last week touting his business experience as making him the best man to fix America's economy.
Republicans are anticipating their best chance in years at defeating Barrow, who is seeking a fifth term. Last year, the GOP-led state Legislature redrew the congressman's district to remove Savannah, Barrow's political base and his home. Barrow has since moved to Augusta and has about $1.3 million in the bank to defend his seat in what's become a more rural, conservative-leaning district.
The winner of the GOP runoff will benefit from a sizable investment by the National Republican Congressional Committee, which has reserved more than $900,000 worth of airtime for TV ads in the district.
That helps explain why the four Republicans who sought the seat each invested six-figure sums of their own money. Anderson loaned his campaign $178,000 for the primary.