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Posted: May 20, 2014 11:53 p.m.

Headed to the runoffs

Bryan Fazio/

Aaron Brooks

Election night had very little drama Tuesday as local incumbents fared well, and the expected favorites across the state prevailed, though a couple of important Newton County elections are headed to the July 22 runoff.

Runoffs coming

Henderson-Hunte
One of the closest races of the night belonged to one of the Newton County’s longest tenured elected officials, as incumbent J.C. Henderson narrowly missed taking the seat outright for a sixth term, garnering 49.38 percent of the vote.

He was above 50 percent with one precinct left to be counted (Beaver Dam), and his family was celebrating early, but the final tally saw Sonya Hunte sneak into the runoff with 30.78 percent.

“I’m not going to change anything I’m already doing,” Henderson said, who said he was pleased with the support.
Hunte said she’s going to keep telling citizens about her vision for a better Newton County.

“I’m absolutely excited about serving the citizens of Newton County. There’s much more to be done,” Hunte said, adding that “The citizens felt my heart. They believed in my ability to serve them. They believed in my honesty and integrity. And the numbers clearly reflect that. They’re voicing their wanting or desire to change.”

Hice-Collins
As was widely expected, conservative champions Mike Collins and Jody Hice were the overwhelming vote getters in the crowded U.S. congressional District 10 race, which had no incumbent after Paul Broun gave up his seat to run for U.S. Senate.

With 16 of 25 counties fully reporting, Hice took 35.23 percent of the vote and Collins was a 31.42 percent.
“We’re very, very excited to be where we are. There’s a lot of work ahead of us now for the runoff, but we’re excited to get to work immediately,” Hice said. “We’re ready to kick it up in high gear. Our grassroots efforts are ready. We’re just glad it’s finally here for round two, which we knew it would come to this.”

Collins said he was feeling good and looking forward to discussing his differences with Hice.

“We haven’t had a relaxed night in over a year. We understand that there are steps in this and we understand how Georgia’s politics work,” Collins said. “We have a lot of gas left in this tank. We’re quite pleased for someone who has never run for public office, who spent his entire career in the private sector and willing to set that aside. I’m very pleased.”

Belton-Brooks
Another race that came down to the wire was the open State House District 112 seat – Doug Holt chose not to seek reelection – and Newton County resident Aaron Brooks edged out fellow resident Ester Fleming Jr., while top vote getter Dave Belton dominated Morgan County’s vote (61.15 percent, 1,187 votes).

Brooks edged out Fleming in both counties and was less than 200 votes behind Belton. When it looked like Brooks was secured of a runoff, he found one of his biggest supporters and gave his mother Karen a hug in the middle of the Mystic Grill’s door room.

“(Running a campaign is) one of the most amazing things I’ve ever done in my life,” Brooks said. “I’m very blessed to have the campaign team that I do. I think the fact that our  platform has stayed consistent from the beginning is one of the things that helped us get here.”

He planned to keep that platform consistent heading toward the runoff, as did Belton, who didn’t want to comment on his victory until the results were labeled official (provisional ballots still need to be counted).
Heading into the runoff, Belton said he planned to “be positive and continue to run on my excellent record with doing less with more and also my military record.”

Democratic incumbents win
Multiple Democratic seats were decided outright Tuesday – with Republicans choosing not to contest races they couldn’t win – and District 113 state Rep. Pam Dickerson held off her repeat challenger easily.

Dickerson was facing Sharon Sawyer in a repeat of the 2012 election when Dickerson beat Sawyer to win re-election for the second time.

“I feel really good, I’ve worked very hard. I don’t mind working hard, but it feels really good to win again,” Dickerson said Tuesday. In a similar situation, District 2 county Commissioner Sims was facing Earnest Simmons, whom he unseated four years ago.

“Since day one, we’ve always been about the citizens and keeping them first,” Sims said. “I feel we’ve done that. We’ve gone out to the doors, out to the houses and we’ve listened. The decisions I make and the things I do are all citizen-based.”

Sims will face Republican Rickie Corley in the November General Election.

As of 10:30 p.m., incumbent Congressman Hank Johnson had a 2,751 lead over challenger Thomas Brown (14,103 to 11,352), but the Secretary of State’s website wasn’t showing any precincts in from DeKalb County. Johnson took both Newton and Rockdale counties.

Bryan Fazio, Kayla Robins and Shakeem Holloway contributed to this story.

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