Marc Morris wins District 26 special election
Marc Morris. - photo by Micah Green

Republican Marc Morris has defeated fellow Republican Tina Trent and Democrat Steve Smith to become the new representative for state House District 26.

Just after 9 p.m., Morris was declared the winner after earning 1,914 votes ahead of Smith’s 680 votes and Trent’s 609 votes. Morris received about 60 percent of the election’s 3,206 total votes.

Morris, a U.S. Navy veteran and president of The Talmadge Group, will serve the unexpired term of former Rep. Geoff Duncan, who stepped down from the seat in order to focus on his 2018 campaign for lieutenant governor. The seat will be up for re-election in 2018.

On Tuesday night, Morris said he was thankful for his supporters and the time, money and energy they gave. He called the campaign “an absolutely humbling experience.”

“I’m grateful for the trust that the people of District 26 put in me,” Morris said. “I’m really humbled by their support and anxious to get to the [Gold] Dome to begin working for the people of the 26th District.”

He said one of the “very first things” he hoped to do at the capitol was to change current rules requiring schools be over capacity to be eligible to open a new school in the district.

“It’s basically the ruling that causes Forsyth County to build overcrowded schools, and I think those rules can be changed rather quickly,” Morris said. “I’ve had discussions with some of the current delegation members about that and I’m excited about getting to work on that because I’m all about educating our children and protecting them.”

Had Morris failed to get at least 50 percent of the vote plus one vote, a runoff would have been held on Dec. 5.

Morris first announced his candidacy in May, before Duncan’s announcement, and expected to run for the seat in 2018.

He founded the Talmadge Group, an information technology firm that provides technical programming, support and integration services on the federal, state and local levels, in 1993.

Morris joined the Navy after his junior year in high school under the delayed entry program, reporting to the Great Lakes Naval Training Center in the summer of 1981 after graduating high school.

Once in the Navy, he was accepted into the Religious Program Specialist, or RP Rating, where he spent nine years providing financial, logistical, technical and personal protection support to the Navy’s Chaplain Corps.

He also received a Navy commendation medal, achievement medal, humanitarian service medal, two good conduct medals and expert pistol and rifle medals.

He recently retired as a master sergeant in the Georgia State Defense Force and said he is an advocate for Vietnam veterans.

Morris and his wife, Donna, have lived in the county since 2004 and have one daughter, Natalie.

District 26 represents east and northeast Forsyth.

Voter turnout for the race had been a concern of elections officials during advance voting and ahead of the election. The total for three weeks of advance voting was 959 in-person voters.

About 8 percent the district’s 43,028 voters cast a ballot in the election.