Pierce County remained deep ruby red Republican in Tuesday’s general election from the local races to the race for the White House, but Georgia turned a little more blue with two separate run-offs slated for federal and state positions.
In the only local race on the ballot, Republican First district county commissioner Harold Rozier Jr. easily defeated Democrat and local contractor Tyrone Harris 1,786 to 553 to win a third term in office. Harris was the first Democrat to run for local public office since 2010, but the result ended the same. Former second district Commissioner and former Sheriff Noah Strickland was the last Democrat elected in Pierce County in 2002.
Incumbent Republican President Donald Trump trounced Democratic former vice president Joe Biden 7,899 to 1,099. Libertarian Jo Jorgensen received 49 votes. The president received 87 percent of the vote locally, one percentage point better than he received in 2016.
Biden was declared the winner of the presidency after a long, hard-fought counting process that lasted until Saturday morning.
Georgia remained too close to call at press time with Biden leading Trump by around 10,000 votes out of the almost 5 million votes cast in the state. If the lead holds, it will be the first time Georgia has gone Democratic for the first time since 1992.
Both U.S. Senate seats are headed toward a January 5, 2021 run-off election. The races will likely determine which party controls the Senate in the next Congress.
Pierce County voters overwhelmingly supported incumbent Republican Senator David Perdue 7,810 to Democrat Jon Ossoff’s 1,002 and Libertarian Shane Hazel’s 128. Perdue was two tenths of a percent shy of 50 percent plus one, meaning he and Ossoff will now advance to a January run-off. Hazel drew about 1.2 percent of the vote statewide, depriving Perdue of a majority.
In the jungle election for U.S. Senate, U.S. Representative Doug Collins received 4,034 votes in Pierce County compared to incumbent Republican Senator Kelly Loeffler’s 2,821. Loeffler, appointed by Governor Brian Kemp, and Collins battled for the conservative vote in South Georgia. Democrat Rev. Raphael Warnock was a distant third locally with 478 votes, but led the race statewide with 33 percent of the vote. Loeffler was second with 26 percent to claim the second run-off spot. Collins conceded the race to Loeffler late Tuesday night as statewide results showed him in third place with 20 percent. Loeffler and Warnock will face off in the run-off election in January, 2021, as both were well short of the 50 percent plus one majority. More than 20 candidates were running for the opportunity to fill the unexpired term of former Republican Senator Johnny Isakson, who retired for health reasons last year.
In state races, both Public Service Commission (PSC) seats teetered at the edge of requiring a run off.
In the district four seat, incumbent Republican Lauren “Bubba” McDonald Jr. was just shy of the 50 percent threshold to avoid a run-off with Democrat Daniel Blackman. Libertarian candidate Nathan Wilson received three percent of the vote statewide depriving McDonald of an outright win.
Locally, McDonald received 7,524 to Blackman’s 968 and Wilson’s 165.
In the district one PSC seat, incumbent Republican Jason Shaw was winning over 50 percent of the vote by a hair, just 19 hundredths of a percent. Democrat Robert G. Bryant had 46 percent and Libertarian Elizabeth Melton had almost four percent.
In a quirky development, Georgia’s statewide run-off election would be Tuesday, December 1, and would be separate from the Senate run-off election, which is a federal election.
Incumbent U.S. Representative Buddy Carter (R-Pooler) received 88 percent of the vote in Pierce County and won district-wide with 58 percent of the vote in the district over Democrat Joyce Marie Griggs. Carter will be sworn in for a fourth two-year term in January.
Voters in Pierce County and statewide overwhelmingly approved two constitutional amendments and one statute on this year’s statewide ballot.
A constitutional change requiring that state fees and taxes collected for a specific purpose are spent as intended passed with 79.7 percent of the vote in Pierce and 81.6 percent statewide.
The second constitutional amendment prohibiting the state and local governments from using the legal doctrine of “sovereign immunity” to avoid citizen lawsuits won approval from 69.1 percent in Pierce and 74.3 percent statewide.
Georgia voters also authorized a tax exemption for property owned by charitable organizations for the purpose of building or repairing single-family homes. House Bill 344 was approved by almost 71 percent of Pierce County voters and passed statewide with 73 percent of the vote.
Voter turnout in Pierce County was a robust 71.32 percent, with most of the 9,070 voters choosing to vote early (6,421) or by mail (1,302). Only 1,347 voters showed up to vote in person on Election Day, likely due to concerns over COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic. While the turnout was large, it was shy of the all-time record of 79.25 percent set in the last presidential election in November 2016.
Dave Williams of the Capitol Beat News Service contributed to this report.