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Field narrows to two
Turnout high for House race
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Forsyth County News

County at a glance

Results from Forsyth County in Tuesday's special election for the 9th District U.S. House seat:

• Tom Graves -- 4,334 votes; 48 percent

• Lee Hawkins  -- 2,016 votes; 22 percent

• Steve Tarvin -- 744 votes; 8 percent

• Chris Cates -- 703 votes; 8 percent

• Bill Stephens --  626 votes; 7 percent

• Mike Freeman -- 309 votes; 3 percent

• Bert Loftman -- 178 votes; 2 percent

• Eugene Moon -- 131 votes; 2 percent

Source: Forsyth County elections department



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District 9 runoff set for June 8.

Tom Graves and Lee Hawkins were excited to make it to a runoff election, but perhaps one of the happiest people Tuesday night was Barbara Luth.

The Forsyth County elections supervisor was expecting a turnout below 5 percent for the 9th District U.S. House contest.

Instead, about 11.6 percent of the county’s eligible voters, or 9,048, cast a ballot.

“I am so happy with that,” Luth said. “I told you I wanted somebody to prove me wrong and they pulled it out at the polls.

“By noon we knew, because it was a steady flow. Normally, you get a burst in the morning and a burst at night.”

Graves, a former state representative from Ranger, carried the county on Tuesday.

He tallied 4,334 votes, or about 48 percent, to pull away from Lee Hawkins of Gainesville, who received 2,016 votes, or about 22 percent.

Graves chose to spend Tuesday night at his Forsyth County campaign headquarters in downtown Cumming.

"I think you’ll see us continue the same campaign that we have in the past and that’s build the grassroots team and continue to reach out to all the constituents in north Georgia," he said.

"And if they support another candidate, we definitely welcome their support."

The two Republicans were also the top vote-getters across the district, which includes some or all of 15 counties in North Georgia, and advance to a June 8 runoff election.

The winner will fill the unexpired term of Nathan Deal, who is running for governor.

Hawkins, a dentist and former state senator, was running third well into the night before outdistancing Chickamauga businessman Steve Tarvin as the results from the northeast Georgia counties, particularly Forsyth and Hall, rolled in.

“We’re going to come back and we’re going to show the truth about what they’re saying, and then we’re going to energize the troops,” Hawkins said of the runoff.

The special election drew eight hopefuls, including one Democrat and an Independent.

The July 20 primary election will feature most of the same candidates vying for a two-year congressional term that begins in January. The general election will be Nov. 2.

After a long night Tuesday, Luth got right back to work Wednesday, preparing for the runoff.

The ballots still need to be certified, but Luth expects early voting can begin by May 24, if not sooner.

With the quick turnaround, Luth said it’s up to candidates and supporters to get people out to vote.

“Whoever gets the voters out to vote is the person that’s going to come out ahead between the two of them,” she said.

Luth said thanks to county employees volunteering, the cost of Tuesday’s special election ended up being closer to $40,000 than the originally anticipated $50,000.

Though fewer people are expected to vote in the runoff, she said it still will cost the county at least an additional $30,000.

“It’s probably not going to be as much [as Tuesday's election] because we’re not going to have as long of a period of time to vote early,” she said.

“We’ve got to turn it around in a short period of time and get all of these people back out to the polls.”

Ashley Fielding of the FCN regional staff contributed to this report.