With two exceptions, the 2018 election has come to an end for our state.

There will be a runoff for secretary of state as no candidate managed to get the magical 50 percent plus one amount needed to avoid a runoff. Republican Brad Raffensperger tallied 49.20 percent while Democrat John Barrow finished with 48.57. The 2.23 percent earned by Libertarian Smythe DuVal contributed to this race going to a runoff.

A runoff for the District 3 Public Service Commissioner seat will also be held as incumbent Chuck Eaton received 49.81 percent to Democrat Lindy Miller’s 47.53. Libertarian Ryan Graham pulled 102,293 votes or 2.66 percent.

While all of the other statewide races were certainly competitive, all contests were once again won by Republicans. The safe money says Raffensperger will win the secretary of state contest but the turnout will be low. The same goes for Eaton in the PSC runoff despite critics who rightfully condemn him for accepting campaign contributions from utility companies which he helps oversee.

The governor’s race turned out to be every bit as competitive as polls indicated. Brian Kemp finished with 50.33 percent and was able to hold off Stacey Abrams who compiled 48.72 percent. Libertarian Ted Metz finished just below 1 percent.

As of this writing, Abrams was still looking at options to continue her quest, but at this point it is best in all ways for her to let it go. My advice to Abrams would be to begin her quest for the race in 2022. Continuing to fight a lost cause will only harm her if she wants to pursue future political office. The “sore loser” tag is often hard to shake and will certainly be brought up by future opponents she has.

It is amazing to see how close this race turned out to be. While the polls ended up fairly accurate, it would have not been surprising to have seen Kemp win with 55 percent or more. However, Georgia, like most of the country, has become evenly split almost right down the middle between political factions.

In the lieutenant governor’s race, Republican Geoff Duncan defeated Democrat Sarah Riggs Amico by a slim margin — 51.74 percent to 48.26.

It was a similar theme in all of the races in terms of the difference between Republican votes and Democratic votes.

The state attorney general’s race was also close with Republican Chris Carr (who was appointed to the position) winning by 51.41 to 48.59 percent over Democrat Charlie Bailey.

The interesting thing about this race was the fact Carr has never prosecuted a case in court. Bailey pointed this out during the campaign and actually gained the support of several law enforcement groups.

While I am not a lawyer or any type of legal scholar, it seems that the state’s attorney general should have at least worked inside a courtroom. However, most people probably didn’t even take this into consideration rather simply voting along party lines.

One of the “easier” wins for the Republican nominee came in the agriculture commissioner race. Incumbent Gary Black defeated challenger Fred Swann 53.19 percent to 46.81 percent. Black has been effective in the office and has done nothing to warrant being replaced.

Republican Jim Beck just squeaked by without a runoff in the insurance commissioner race. Beck finished with 50.48 percent to 46.88 percent for Democrat Janice Laws. Libertarian Donnie Foster polled 2.64 percent, receiving more than 100,000 votes.

Richard Woods won another term as state school superintendent, defeating Democratic challenger Otha Thornton with just over 53 percent of the vote.

In the other PSC race on the general election ballot, Republican incumbent Tricia Pridemore narrowly avoided a runoff with 50.36 percent to Democrat Dawn Randolph’s 47.12 percent. Libertarian John Turpish received 2.52 percent.

In the U.S. Representatives races, one of the bigger surprises was the win by Democrat Lucy McBath over Republican Karen Handel. It should be noted, however, that Handel has lost her share of political races, several of which came at the statewide level. She was victorious in one of the most crowded races to fill the seat but was not able to win re-election.

The statewide runoff for the two races which were not decided last week will be Dec. 4.

It would be tough under any circumstance for Democrats to win, but without the enthusiasm shown for the top of the ticket candidate, turnout will be an eye-catching low number. That probably goes for Republican voters as well.

However, both of these offices are important. One of the main duties for the secretary of state is to oversee the election process (there are numerous other duties) and the PSC has as much of an effect on our wallet as any elected statewide office.

My advice is to study the candidates in depth and look beyond party labels. Just because someone runs under a certain political party banner does not automatically make them the most qualified for the office.

Winder resident Chris Bridges is a former editor of the Barrow News-Journal. He has earned awards from the Georgia Press Association and National Newspaper Association for column writing. He welcomes feedback about this column at pchrisbridges@gmail.com.

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