Lee Anderson appeared to eke out a razor-thin victory in the 12th Congressional District Republican runoff, according to unofficial results posted Tuesday night.
But Anderson’s margin over Rick W. Allen was only 153 votes — 13,778 to 13,625. Allen’s campaign signaled that it is going to wait until the results are certified before deciding what to do.
“It’s a nonclosure, if that makes sense,” said Jonathan Dickerson, Allen’s deputy campaign manager. “We’ve already been through a very tense and rough primary, and after that a very tense recount to get into the runoff. Now, we’re sitting here with 153 votes and uncertified results. It’s a little shocking to go through the same déjà vu, to stay up as late as we are again at this point.”
Under state law, a candidate can automatically request a recount if the difference is less than 1 percent. Unofficial results show Anderson with 50.3 percent of the vote and Allen with 49.7 percent — well within that recount range.
Anderson’s campaign did not immediately offer comment to the Statesboro Herald.
If the results hold, Anderson, a state representative from Grovetown, will try to unseat U.S. Rep. John Barrow, D-Ga., in the November general election.
Republicans believe they have a good chance of taking Barrow’s seat because the Republican-controlled state Legislature redrew the district, cutting out Democratic-leaning Savannah — which had been Barrow’s home base — and adding rural, Republican-leaning areas.
Barrow, the last white Democrat from the Deep South in the U.S. House, moved to Augusta in March to stay within the new district lines.
The Republican primary has been a dogged fight. Since the July 31 General Primary Election, Allen, an Augusta businessman, and Anderson have attacked each other in a series of television ads.
Allen has poured money, including $540,000 from his own pocket, into ads that blame Anderson for supporting tax increase that they say hampered Georgia’s economic recovery. Anderson countered with ads and mailings calling Allen a false conservative because he has donated money to Democrats and a group that supports them.
Anderson easily won the primary by 5,000 votes, but in a four-way race fell far short of the majority needed to win outright. Allen finished 584 votes ahead of Wright McLeod. A recount of the certified results done on McLeod’s request changed the result by only four votes, so Allen advanced and McLeod conceded.
Both McLeod, an Augusta lawyer, and fourth-place finisher Maria Sheffield, a Dublin lawyer, have endorsed Anderson.
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.