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Newton County goes with Huckabee and Obama
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Newton County Democrats voted overwhelming in favor of Barack Obama Tuesday night in the presidential primary while Mike Huckabee carried the county's Republican vote.

Huckabee received 42 percent of the Republican vote and Obama received nearly 73 percent of the Democratic votes cast.

County residents voted strongly in favor of a referendum to increase the current Board of Education homestead exemption from $20,000 to $30,000 and to increase the income cap of seniors eligible to qualify for the exemption to $25,000 by a wide margin of 87 percent.

Nearly 46 percent of the county's 46,440 registered voters cast ballots on Tuesday, an unusually high number for a primary election but not unsurprising when considering the amount of national attention and excitement this presidential race has received.

In a surprise for what has been a solidly Republican county for some time now, Newton County Democrats turned out in greater numbers than Republicans to cast their ballots on Tuesday. A total of 11,394 ballots were cast for Democratic candidates compared to 9,732 votes for Republican candidates.

 The county's party turnout parallel's a high party turnout among Democrats nationwide who have shown great enthusiasm for the party's two front runners, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, in comparison to the Republican Party which has yet to rally around one candidate.

Clinton came a distant second to Obama in the county, capturing only 25 percent of the vote.

The remaining Democratic candidates captured only 2 percent of the Democratic vote: John Edwards, 165 votes; Bill Richardson, 20 votes; Joe Biden, 18 votes; Dennis Kucinich, 14 votes; Chris Dodd, 11 votes; Mike Gravel, two votes.

Mitt Romney came in second place with county Republican voters, capturing 28 percent of the vote. John McCain placed third, capturing 26 percent of the vote.

The remaining Republican candidates came up with a smattering of votes: Ron Paul, 183 votes; Rudy Giuliani, 79 votes; Fred Thompson, 36 votes; Alan Keys, 15 votes; Duncan Hunter, 11 votes; Tom Tancredo, three votes.

Clinton won the absentee vote for Democrats with 65 ballots and McCain won the Republican absentee vote with 41 ballots.

In the tax referendum 17,419 ballots were cast in favor of the measure compared to only 2,687 ballots against.

Statewide results

Early unofficial results had Obama leading Clinton with 63 percent of the statewide vote on Tuesday. Clinton won 34 percent of the vote in the race. A total of 87 delegates are tied to the primary, which will be divided based on the percentage of votes received.

According to information released on Tuesday, Clinton's support came primarily from counties in North Georgia while Obama won nearly every central county and a majority of southern counties as well.

On the Republican side, Huckabee was only narrowly leading McCain in the state-wide primary race at press time with a 35 percent to 32 percent edge. Romney followed the pair closely in third with nearly 29 percent of the vote.

Huckabee had a solid showing the northern counties as well as the central counties of the state and McCain showed well in the southwestern counties and the eastern counties.

For the Republican candidates, 72 delegates are at stake in Georgia.

Robby Byrd contributed to the writing of this report.