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Republican incumbent representatives win
Tankersley, Allen fend off opponents
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Republican incumbent representatives at both the state and national levels won re-election here Tuesday, while a majority in Bulloch County supported Republican Donald Trump for president. Local voter turnout topped 70.3 percent.

The nationwide race between Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton remained too close to call at press time, but local results were known, and the national race was leaning Trump’s way.

State Rep. Jan Tankersley, the Republican from Brooklet, won a fourth two-year term in the Georgia House of Representatives from District 160 after an energetic challenge from Democratic candidate James “Major” Woodall, 22, a Georgia Southern University senior eligible to graduate with a degree in political science and a sergeant in the U.S. Army Reserve. The district encompasses southern Bulloch County, including the university and part of Statesboro, and northern Bryan County, including Pembroke. In the unofficial election night totals, Tankersley received 12,401 votes district-wide, or 70.7percent of the total, to Woodall’s 5,137 votes, or 29.3 percent.

“I’m just thrilled to have such great supporters that gave me their vote of confidence,” Tankersley said. “This is an incredible House district. I’m very proud to represent most of Bulloch County and North Bryan County, they’ve all been supportive and I plan to go write back to work at the Capitol and represent their values and respond to their constituent issues and needs.”

She said she will be focused on keeping the area’s economy strong, bringing jobs to the district and backing education.

Woodall was Georgia Youth and College Division NAACP state president before resigning to run for public office. Originally from Riverdale, he plans to attend law school in Savannah but to remain a Statesboro resident and be active as a leader in the community.

“I’m truly grateful for the opportunity to have put my name on the ballot to have run in this race,” Woodall said. “I wish Jan Tankersley the best, and I look forward to working with her to continue to push the issues forward and put partisan politics behind us. There’s too much at stake, a sense of urgency we must acknowledge and embrace unlike any we’ve seen before, and even though we lost this election we still won in a major way because we were able to mobilize, to organize a group of people who have been left in the shadows for far too long.”

Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Rick Allen won a second term representing Georgia’s 12th Congressional District in the U.S. House, receiving 61.6 percent of the vote in the 19-county district to 38.4 percent for his Democratic challenger, Patricia McCracken, who did not actively campaign.

Allen is the founder of the construction company R.W. Allen and Associates, headquartered in Augusta and with an office in Athens. He was first elected in 2014, when he won the district for Republicans from then-Rep. John Barrow, the Democrat who held the seat for 10 years.

“When I first ran for Congress, I had three goals: grow the economy, create jobs and reduce the scope and size of the federal government,” Allen said a press release Tuesday night. “I have kept my word and these goals will continue to guide my decision-making. Once again, the people of the 12th District have given me the greatest honor of my life. I am beyond thankful to have another opportunity to serve the people of Georgia’s 12th District.”

He included his wife in an expression of gratitude to voters.

“Robin and I are so honored that the people of Georgia’s 12th District have once again elected me, a small businessman from Augusta, to represent them in Washington,” Allen said in the emailed statement. “We are so grateful.”

Allen had endorsed Trump, and backs some policies and proposals similar to those Trump advocates, such as repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare.

In Bulloch County, Trump received 14,476 votes, or 59.9 percent of the county’s total votes for president, to 8,812 votes, or 36.5 percent, for Clinton. Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson received 863 votes here, or 3.6 percent of the county total.

 

Presidential opinions

Voters asked before or after visiting polling places cited the presidential race as their main motivation.

Peter Egede, a Georgia Southern junior majoring in logistics, was a first-time voter at the Pittman Park precinct.

“For me, it’s because I’m 20 and, you know, I’m finally able to vote and it’s the presidential election year so I felt like it’s my right, my duty, and coming from where I come from, my background, you know, people fought for the right to vote,” Egede said. “My ancestors fought to have the right to vote, so it just meant that much more to me to go out there and vote today.”

He voted for Clinton.

“I just thought she was the lesser of two evils,” he said.

Asked if he really felt the presidential nominees were evil, Egede said, “Evil might be a might of a stretch. It’s more of who I feel would do more for my people in general. I do a lot with community service. I’m a big advocate for Black Lives (Matter), and all lives of course, but I felt the candidate who would do more for the things I want was Hillary Clinton.”

Nicci Soles, 41, a paralegal and mother to stepchildren who votes in the Brooklet precinct, answered with one word when asked why she voted for Trump. “Change,” she said.

But when asked what kind of change, she gave a familiar-sounding answer.

“Anything’s better than what we have,” Soles said. “It’s the lesser of two evils, though, really.”

Soles is white. Egede is African-American. But not all Bulloch County voters fit with the perception that Trump appealed mainly to white voters.

Marcus Randolph, 42, who retired from the Army a little over a year ago, is black and said he voted for Trump in early voting. Tuesday around 4 p.m., Randolph joined a half dozen Trump supporters holding signs and accompanied by a life-size cutout of Trump beside Highway 67 in front of Pittman Park Methodist Church, where the voting place is located.

He took some friends there to vote for Clinton, but then joined in holding a Trump sign, and was one of two black citizens in the group.

“I just want change. We need some real change, not the change, you know, they told us about before. We just need something different. We’ve deal with politicians, let’s give a change to someone different. All we can do is give it a chance.”

After record participation in advanced voting the previous three weeks, Bulloch County Election Supervisor Patricia Lanier Jones predicted turnout of 70 percent, which turned out to be very close to the reality of 70.34 percent.

In the November 2012 election, which featured Obama and Republican Mitt Romney, the local turnout was 67.8 percent, according to Jones’ records.

Although higher than four years ago, this year’s turnout was not the highest ever. The Statesboro Herald reported a 74.6 percent Bulloch County turnout in the November 2004 election when President George W. Bush won a second term.

 

 

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