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Free Citizen

This writer espouses individual liberty, free markets, and limited government.

Location: Jackson, Mississippi, United States

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Two Runoffs In Georgia

Georgia, the only state that has party primaries AND runoff general elections, will have two runoffs on December 2, one for public service commissioner and the other for U. S. senator. Both runoffs were forced by the presence of Libertarian candidates in those races.

The Peach State has an unusual setup for electing its public service commissioners. The state is divided into five PSC districts, and a candidate must live in the district that he seeks to represent. However, all PSC candidates run statewide; hence it's possible for a candidate to be elected commissioner despite losing his home district.

The Libertarian who finished third has endorsed the Democrat over the Republican in the PSC runoff.

Allen Buckley, the Libertarian who got enough votes for U. S. senator to force a runoff, has not yet endorsed either the Republican incumbent, Saxby Chambliss, or the Democrat Jim Martin (B. J. "Bill" Clinton-- the only elected president ever to be impeached-- recently campaigned for Martin). Chambliss has caught flak for his "yes" vote on the bailout bill.

Georgia's runoff provision is a by-product of the 1966 election of Lester Maddox as governor. The Republican Bo Callaway, who had been elected to Congress on Barry Goldwater's presidential coat-tails in 1964, got more popular votes than Maddox. However, former governor (1943-1947) Ellis Arnall, who had lost the Democratic runoff to Maddox, got enough write-in votes to deny either candidate 50-plus percent. Georgia law then specified that, in that situation, the race be decided by the state House of Representatives, and the heavily Democratic House elected Maddox.

The third-place finisher in that 1966 Democratic primary, incidentally, was a state senator named Jimmy Carter.

Thanks to Ballot Access News for the posts.


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