Graves Wins Georgia Runoff Handily

Posted August 10, 2010 at 8:17pm

Updated: 9:42 p.m.

Rep. Tom Graves defeated former state Sen. Lee Hawkins in Georgia’s 9th district GOP runoff Tuesday and is all but certain to return for his first full term in the 112th Congress.

Graves received 56 percent to Hawkins’ 44 percent, with 95 percent of precincts reporting.

The contest marked the fourth time Graves outpolled Hawkins in as many months. The two men faced off in a special election primary and runoff in May and June and the general election primary last month. Graves came just a point shy of securing a majority of the vote in the July race, which would have allowed him to avoid a runoff. But he had little trouble finishing the job Tuesday.

During the special election, Graves, a real estate investor, built much of his early campaign around courting the tea party vote and touting his endorsement from the powerful anti-tax group the Club for Growth. The club raised about $220,000 for Graves and put an additional $100,000 into the race through its political action committee.

The two men showed similar fundraising heading into their June special election runoff, but after Graves won the seat he saw his fundraising flourish while Hawkins’ hit a wall. During the first three weeks of July, Graves raised about $108,000 for his campaign compared with $17,000 for Hawkins.

Meanwhile, in the 7th district GOP runoff, Rob Woodall wrapped up the nomination Tuesday night after finishing well ahead of the pack in an eight-way primary last month. He is now the heavy favorite to succeed his former boss, retiring Rep. John Linder (R).

Woodall defeated radio talk show host and Baptist minister Jody Hice 55 percent to 45 percent.

Woodall is Linder’s former chief of staff, and he had the outgoing Congressman’s backing in the race. Heading into the July primary, it was assumed that Woodall’s biggest challenge would come from state Rep. Clay Cox, by far the best-known and best-funded candidate in the race. But Cox finished a disappointing third, 6 points behind Hice.

While Hice touted local tea party support in the primary and runoff, Woodall had the backing of big-name state and national Republicans such as Linder, Rep. Tom Price (Ga.) and former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee.

The suburban Atlanta district is a Republican stronghold where Democrats are not expected to compete this fall.