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Burns concedes Congressional race to Barrow
Burns 4 col
Max Burns
    SAVANNAH — Republican Max Burns conceded defeat Thursday to U.S. Rep. John Barrow, accepting his 864-vote loss without requesting a recount nine days after the polls closed.
    Burns ended his rematch race with Barrow, and one of the nation’s closest House races, with a phone call to congratulate the Democratic incumbent. Burns, a former congressman, was ousted by Barrow in 2004.
    Burns’ concession came a day after the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office released its official results from the Nov. 7 election. The tally showed Barrow won a second term in eastern Georgia’s 12th District by less than 1 percent of the 142,438 votes cast.
    Because the margin was so close, Burns could have requested an automatic recount under Georgia law.
    ‘‘We did not feel a recount would substantially alter the results,’’ Burns said in conference call with reporters. ‘‘We felt it was not in the best interest of the state to go through the time and expense.’’
    The certified results also showed that Democratic Rep. Jim Marshall of Macon defeated Republican Mac Collins of Jackson by 1,752 votes to keep his seat in middle Georgia’s 8th District.
    In that race, 159,568 votes were cast, and Marshall’s victory margin was just enough to avoid an automatic recount. Collins’ campaign has not returned calls from The Associated Press seeking comment.
    In the 12th District race, Burns called Barrow from Dayton, Ohio, where Burns’ father-in-law died Tuesday. Barrow said he offered his condolences and their conversation was ‘‘most cordial, very gracious.’’
    ‘‘He was kind enough to ask me, as one of my constituents, to support Mr. Hoyer in the majority leader race that was pending,’’ Barrow said. ‘‘I assured him that was an easy request to grant.’’
    Hoyer of Maryland was elected to the No. 2 leadership post in the Democrat-controlled House on Wednesday over Rep. John Murtha of Pennsylvania. Hoyer was seen as the more moderate of the two Democrats.
    In Georgia, experts say recounts would make little difference because the state’s electronic voting machines would tabulate the same votes stored in their memory cards — much like re-adding the same numbers with a calculator.
    The only chance for a different result would come from recounting absentee and provisional votes, still cast on paper ballots and scanned by machines.
    In the 12th District, Burns, of Sylvania, sought to take back the seat he held for one term before losing the seat to Barrow in 2004 by a narrow 7,907 votes.
    Last year, the Republican-led Legislature redrew the district to exclude Barrow’s hometown of Athens, a Democratic base, and replace it with 11 conservative-leaning, rural counties. The changes prompted Barrow to move to Savannah, and helped persuade Burns to seek a rematch.
    Redistricting didn’t change Barrow’s sizable black constituency, which makes up 41 percent of registered voters in the district. So while Burns carried 14 of the district’s 22 counties, Barrow picked up more than half his votes in heavily black Savannah and Augusta, the two largest cities.
    Asked if the district was too competitive to ever offer an incumbent an easy ride to re-election, Barrow said he hoped so.
    ‘‘That’s one of the things that’s wrong with Congress is so many seats are considered safe seats,’’ he said. ‘‘I sure hope this district doesn’t become like that.’’
    Burns wouldn’t rule out a return to politics after his second loss, but said Wednesday he’s ready for a break.
    ‘‘I’m just happy to be a private citizen and get ready for Christmas,’’ said Burns, who raises cows and timber on a farm in Sylvania. ‘‘I’ve got some work around the farm to do.’’
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