The numbers in the nine-way race to fill the unexpired term of state Sen. Mitch Seabaugh (Dist. 28) are in and the top two vote-getters on Nov. 8 were Newnan residents Duke Blackburn and Mike Crane. The two will face off in a runoff election on Dec. 6.
Blackburn received 2,718 votes, or 26.28 percent of the total while Crane ended the night with 2,095 votes, or 20.25 percent. Both men qualified on the Republican ticket.
The turnout in Coweta County for the special election was rather low, coming in at 10,344 votes cast out of a pool of 69,834 registered voters. That translates to a voter turnout of approximately 15 percent.
So who were all the candidates on the Nov. 8 ballot and how many votes did they receive?
-Cynthia C. Bennett (Non-part.), 1,062 votes or 10.27 percent
-Duke Blackburn (R), 2,718 votes or 26.28 percent
-Matthew Brass (R), 1,831 votes or 17.70 percent
-Mike Crane (R), 2,095 votes or 20.25 percent
-Kyle Frank (R), 275 votes or 2.66 percent
-Dale Pepper (R), 954 votes or 9.22 percent
-Wayne Seabolt (D), 513 votes or 4.96 percent
-Edward Stone (R), 458 votes or 4.43 percent
-Jammie Williams (D), 421 votes or 4.07 percent
Information supplied by the candidates to the Newnan-Coweta County Chamber of Commerce provided an overview of the main issues they see as significant.
Crane, a 48 year-old general contractor from Newnan said his main issues included the economy, limited and more efficient government and simplifying the tax code.
Blackburn, a 61 year-old retired state law enforcement officer and former small business owner from Newnan said his issues included working for the whole district, reducing regulatory burdens on business, continuing the expansion of healthcare facilities in Coweta County, supporting both the HOPE scholarship and groups such as teachers, veterans, seniors and all public safety officials.
Both men attended a recent candidates forum at the old courthouse in Newnan.
One question asked what should be done to stimulate the Georgia economy.
Blackburn in his response said he has a solid plan to stimulate the economy, noting that Georgia is now reaping the benefits of the burgeoning movie industry and adding that potential industries look closely at public safety when considering a move to a new state.
Crane in his response said the state is attracting businesses, especially in the west Georgia area. Noting his two decades as a business owner, Crane said he knows what it takes to grow a business. Crane also proposed cutting state spending in non-necessary areas and leading by example.
Candidates in an associated question were asked what changes they would like to see in state taxes.
Crane said he wants to simplify the tax structure, cut the size of government and return that money to the citizens.
Blackburn responded saying that he supports the fair tax, reducing government spending and eliminating duplicate state services.
Another forum question asked if candidates thought the regional 10-year, 1-cent sales tax initiative for transportation going before voters in the 10-county Three Rivers Regional Commission area in July will pass and, if not, what they would suggest to meet the area’s growing transportation needs.
Blackburn said he did not know at this point if the 1-cent transportation tax would pass, adding that it is likely the fairest tax available.
Crane in his response cited conventional wisdom which says it will not pass, adding that it is government that is supporting the initiative.
Crane and Blackburn will face each other at the polls in the runoff election scheduled for Dec. 6.
District 28 includes all of Coweta and Heard counties and portions of Carroll and Troup counties.