Broun Leads Whitehead in Georgia Special Stunner

Posted July 18, 2007 at 9:21am

Physician Paul Broun (R) may have pulled off a shocking upset victory Tuesday in the special election runoff to succeed the late Rep. Charlie Norwood (R-Ga.). Former state Sen. Jim Whitehead (R) had been the runaway favorite to win the northeast Georgia seat. But with 98 percent of the votes reported Tuesday night, Broun led by about 370 votes. A winner may not be determined for several days, and final results are not expected to be certified until next week. Whitehead boasted the endorsement of Gloria Norwood, the late Congressman’s widow, and had the full strength of Norwood’s staff and political operation behind his campaign. An Augusta businessman who owns a chain of tire stores, he was forced to give up his state Senate seat in order to run in the special Congressional election. Broun finished well behind Whitehead in last month’s all-party special election primary. Whitehead garnered 44 percent in the initial vote. Broun focused his campaign heavily on turning out Christian conservatives. He also sought to make the race about geography: Whitehead’s base in Augusta versus Broun’s base in Athens, traditionally a Democratic stronghold. Athens was drawn back into the 10th district when state Republicans undertook a mid-decade redistricting in 2005. Norwood was from the Augusta area and therefore the district has had a Representative from Augusta for more than a dozen years. Broun also sought out support from disaffected Republicans as well as Democrats. His late father was a former Democratic state Senator. “I got a lot of help out of the African-American community,” Broun told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution Tuesday night.