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Graves beats Hawkins for full term in U.S. House
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Forsyth County News

Tom Graves will keep his seat in Washington, D.C., winning Tuesday's runoff election and wrapping up a fourth contest for the 9th District U.S. House seat.

Graves pulled in 55.2 percent of the vote, or about 8,000 more votes than former state Sen. Lee Hawkins of Gainesville, who drew 44.8 percent.

There is no Democratic opposition for the seat in November.

"I'm looking forward to leading this district," Graves said Tuesday night. "In the next few months, we're going to organize an economic advisory council across the district and make sure the national and local offices are equipped to meet the needs and questions of our constituents."

Graves, a former state legislator from Ranger, received 9,769 votes, or 62 percent of the total, in Forsyth County. Hawkins drew 38 percent, or 5,998 votes.

Hawkins, who kept his campaigning closer to his Gainesville home, thanked supporters and family when final Hall County results rolled in about 9:30 p.m.

"I want to thank the people in Hall County for their support. What we did was important," he said, holding wife Sharon at his side. "We know our state is on the right path, but we have to make sure our country is.

"I don't know where we'll go next, but the fight isn't over."

Graves and Hawkins rose to the top of an eight-candidate field competing in a May 11 special election for Nathan Deal's former seat.

They then moved to a June 8 runoff, where Graves beat Hawkins by 13 percentage points to fill the remainder of the term, which ends in December.

"We're disappointed because we had our hearts set on it," Hawkins said Tuesday. "But we're still in a mess budget-wise and with health care, so we're not going to stop because it's too important."

In the July 20 primary, Graves pulled in 49 percent of the votes, and Hawkins drew 27 percent across the 15-county district.

"It’s certainly a sense of relief to be finished and completed and to be able to focus on the job that we’ve been elected to do," Graves said during a victory party Tuesday night at his campaign headquarters in Cumming.

"It’s an honor and we’re humbled to have the support of the 9th congressional district and I look forward to serving."

Staff Writer Jennifer Sami contributed to this report.