Billy Hickman, certified public accountant from Statesboro, will represent District 4 in Georgia’s state Senate after winning Tuesday’s primary runoff on the Republican ballot with 59.5% of the vote district-wide to Dr. Scott Bohlke’s 40.5%.
The unofficial total vote count, as of 10:30 p.m., was 8,583 votes for Hickman to 5,841 votes for Bohlke. Again, these are Republican primary results awarding Hickman the full two-year, 2021-22, term.
At that time, the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office election results website indicated 83.3% of the district’s precincts reporting, but it wasn’t clear what if anything was actually missing, as the breakdown by county showed 100% of the precincts in each. District 4 encompasses Bulloch, Candler, Evans and Effingham counties and parts of Emanuel and Tattnall counties.
“I’m excited. I just think it’s a huge opportunity to represent the whole district, and I’m ready to get to work tomorrow,” Hickman said. “I am so humbled that the people voted for me, and I know that I’ll stand boldly by my principles and they will not waver, and I just thank the district….”
After pausing breathlessly, he continued, “I’m very, very emotional about it, and I’m looking forward to representing the 4th Senatorial District. I’m looking forward to following in the steps of our great, late Senator Jack Hill, and if I could just do a portion of what Jack did, it would be a huge accomplishment.”
On the Republican ballot in Bulloch, home county of both runoff contenders, Hickman received 3,247 votes, or 51.1% of the county total, to Bohlke’s 3,111 votes, or 48.9%.
Bohlke, the physician who has been treating patients at Bohler Family Practice in Brooklet for 21 years, also answered a post-10:30 p.m. call from the Statesboro Herald.
“I would thank all of our supporters,” he said. “I think we ran a great campaign and just came out on the short end of the stick. … I think we did the best we could. We’ve never done this before, so this was our first endeavor to do this, and we’re very proud of our effort and how we ran our campaign, and the people we came in contact with, that’s something we will forever remember.”
In the June 9 first-round election, Bohlke had received a larger share of the votes in Bulloch County, 48.7% to Hickman’s 42.9%, in what was originally a four-candidate race in the Republican primary. But Hickman had led in four of the five other counties of the district while another candidate, Kathy Palmer, led in her home county of Emanuel.
In the final round that concluded Tuesday, Hickman also captured the district-wide majority, with 9,532 votes, or 56.3% of the total, to Bohlke’s 7,404 votes, or 43.7%, in the special election on the nonpartisan ballot to fill the remainder of Hill’s final term. But that lasts only through December, so the more important race was the one on the Republican ballot, for the full two-year term that starts with the new Georgia General Assembly session set to convene in January.
Within Bulloch County, Bohlke received the most votes, 3,952, or 52.3% to Hickman’s 3,604, or 47.7%, in the partial-term special election, which remained open to Democrats and independent voters as well as Republicans. But Hickman also carried the rest of the counties in that part of the election.
Originally, on June 9, there had been five candidates in the special election, including the four Republicans, designated as such even though their names appeared on the nonpartisan ballot, and an independent candidate with no party designation shown.
The whole process was set in motion by Hill’s unexpected death on April 6. He represented the district in the state Senate for almost 30 years, was chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee and had qualified unopposed in March another two-year term.
Also on Tuesday and in the three weeks of in-person early voting that preceded it and with many absentee ballots returned, voters in Bulloch County and one of its eight Board of Education districts decided two other contests.
Countywide on the Republican ballot, Catherine Sumner Findley won the runoff to become Bulloch County State Court solicitor-general, with 3,323 votes, or 53.5% of the total, to Mark A. Lanier’s 2,888 votes, or 46.5%.
Findley is currently an Ogeechee Judicial Circuit assistant district attorney, in other words a prosecutor of mainly felony cases in Superior Court, while the solicitor-general is lead prosecutor of misdemeanor cases in State Court. Lanier, previously assistant solicitor, has been acting solicitor since February.
BOE District 7
In Board of Education District 7, incumbent member Heather Mims held onto the seat with 631 votes, or 56.4%, to 487 votes, or 43.6% for challenger Lisa Deloach. That contest was decided on the nonpartisan ballot.
Turnout in Bulloch County was 17.1%, with 7,636 of the county’s 44,660 registered voters participating.