After months of campaigning, the race for the Republican nomination for Georgia's 12th Congressional District will continue.
The GOP primary will require a runoff next month to determine a winner.
Voters will choose between candidates Lee Anderson and either Rick Allen or Wright McLeod during an Aug. 21 runoff after none of four challengers earned more than 50 percent of the vote.
As of press time Tuesday night, with almost all precincts in 19 counties reporting, Anderson led the way, garnering more than 34 percent of votes — some 20,459 ballots cast in his favor.
Allen trailed by little more than 5,000 votes, with nearly 26 percent of votes cast, edging McLeod for second and a place in the runoff. With precincts in five counties still yet to report, McLeod recorded 24.8 percent (14,816 votes) of the vote.
A fourth challenger, Maria Sheffield was eliminated from competition, winning just 15 percent of votes.
Despite the need for a runoff, Anderson said he was pleased with election night results.
“We are very excited with the results and just delighted with the support we have received all over the district,” Anderson said. “When you have four good people running, it is hard to win without a runoff. We are just excited to be in the runoff.”
“But we are not going to let up until we win, and until we beat John Barrow and President Obama,” he said.
Anderson, 55, a Grovetown farmer, is the only Republican contender with political experience, having served four years in the state House and four years as a Columbia County commissioner.
He 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.
Anderson 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.
Both of Anderson’s potential challengers, McLeod and Allen, have run campaigns focusing on similar issues, such as slashing the federal government, increasing domestic oil production, repealing President Barack Obama's health care overhaul and simplifying the tax code.
McLeod, 48, is an Augusta attorney, former Navy fighter pilot, and former municipal judge.
McLeod has promised voters that, if elected, he will look for ways to spur economic growth.
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.
The winner of next month’s runoff will continue on to face Democratic incumbent Rep. John Barrow in November’s general election. Barrow is a four-term representative for Georgia’s 12th District, which the Republican-controlled Legislature redrew to favor the GOP earlier this year.
Whoever prevails in the runoff will inherit $900,000 the National Republican Congressional Committee has promised for advertising in the general election campaign against the incumbent.
Jeff Harrison may be reached at (912) 489-9454.