Race for Norwood’s Seat Headed to July Runoff

Favorite Whitehead Advances; Runoff Foe Not Yet Determined

Posted June 20, 2007 at 5:21pm

Former Georgia state Sen. Jim Whitehead (R), the undisputed frontrunner to succeed the late Rep. Charlie Norwood (R-Ga.), was unable to avoid a runoff in Tuesday’s 10th district special election balloting. But as votes continued to be counted Wednesday, it remained unclear which candidate Whitehead will face in next month’s contest.

With 97 percent of precincts reporting at press time Wednesday, Whitehead had captured about 44 percent of the all-party primary vote. To avoid a July 17 runoff, Whitehead needed to garner more than 50 percent of the ballots cast in the 10-person contest.

Whitehead will be heavily favored to win the runoff, where he will face either businessman James Marlow (D) or physician Paul Broun (R), the son of a former Democratic state Senator.

With the votes still being tallied, Broun was at 20.7 percent and Marlow had 20.3 percent, with 187 votes separating the two.

Whitehead has the endorsement of Norwood’s widow, Gloria Norwood, and the backing of the late Congressman’s political organization and staff.

The 10th district is overwhelmingly Republican, and national Democrats are not expected to vigorously contest or fund the runoff should Marlow end up in the contest with Whitehead.

Overall, 38,121 Republican votes were cast Tuesday, compared with 15,380 votes for Democrats. Republican also-rans Bill Greene and Nate Pulliam endorsed Whitehead late Tuesday.

With those results in hand, Republicans remain confident they will hold the northeast Georgia seat.

“The NRCC will continue to monitor the situation and will certainly help our Republican nominee in the case of a partisan run-off,” National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Tom Cole (Okla.) said in a statement Tuesday night. “However, the weak Democratic performance suggests that the seat will remain in Republican hands even if the [Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee] is foolish enough to commit resources to the contest.”