Election night was not a night of upset victories in the local State House District 94, 95 and State Senate District 43, 17 races as the frontrunners won clear majorities in Tuesday night's races.
State House District 94
Dar’Shun Kendrick became a state representative on Tuesday night, defeating Steven Conner for a seat on District 94 of the State House of Representatives.
As of 11:45 p.m. the Democrat, Kendrick had 83.2 percent of the vote, compared to 16.8 percent of her Republican counterpart Steven Conner.
“I feel really good,” Kendrick said. “I’m thankful for all of the support, and I give a big thank you to everybody that voted.”
Kendrick, who expected a fewer percentage of the vote, noted a possible turn of Republican voters as a key in victory.
“Obviously I’m running on the Democrat ticket, but to be able to cross over like that being a litigator and somebody who negotiates contracts all the time, I’m happy I made people do that,” Kendrick said.
Conner expressed disappointment in Tuesday night’s results.
“I’m disappointed the people did not actually look at the qualifications of the candidates,” Conner said. “I firmly believe I’m a better qualified candidate, but at the same time I will support Kendrick.”
State House 95
Although the results came in the latest out of the four contested Rockdale state assembly races, by midnight, Democrat Pam Dickerson had a clear majority in the 95th district, which stretches over the top part of Rockdale, Newton, and the southeast tip of Gwinnett counties.
Dickerson had 59.2 percent of the vote (13,038 votes) and Republican Rodney Upton had 40.8 percent of the vote (8,971 votes).
"I was very very happy to see the final results," said Dickerson, who awaited the returns with supporters in her Brentwood subdivision neighborhood. "It really hit me after 12 a.m. that I had really won. The results were still coming in. I was just cautiously optimistic. Once I saw the final results, I was really ecstatic."
"(My opponent) fought a good fight as well." she said.
Upton, who watched results come at the Republican Party gathering at the Conyers Holiday Inn Express, said “I knew it was an uphill battle for the district. I knew we were outnumbered historically for (those that voted Democrat and those that voted Republican)… I figured if the district was winnable for a Republican, it would be winnable in this election cycle.”
Dickerson pulled ahead in Newton County (4,478 to 2,931 for Upton) and Gwinnett County (5,986 to 3,448 for Upton). In Rockdale, the vote was evenly split, with 2,574 votes going to Dickerson and 2,592 going to Upton.
Dickerson attributed her victory to hard work and the hard work of her supporters. "I always knew, even when I first started this, I would have to carry Gwinnett to win at any point in time. The people in Gwinnett were very good to us too. We got out here and shook hands, hit the neighborhoods, made the phone calls."
Her political consultant, Warren Moseby, also attributed the victory to rallying the Democratic base. "I think that’s the core message Democrats learn from this lesson," he said.
Dickerson, a Rockdale resident and Delta flight attendant, had defeated incumbent and one-term State Representative Toney Collins in the July Democratic primary. She ran on a platform of addressing home valuation and eliminating the inclusion of foreclosures in the valuation process, public safety, education, and accessibility.
Upton, also a Rockdale resident, minister-in-training, septic contractor and father of six, ran on a platform of conservative values, such as small government, family choice and accountability in education, and supported the "Fair Tax" system.
“I had a good time,” said Upton. “I honestly wasn’t (disappointed). Pam and I ran a clean campaign.”
Upton said he would probably run again sometime. “I may not do it the next election cycle. With redistricting... I’m hoping it would go into a more favorable district for a Republican candidate. I would maybe run then. If not, I would wait and see.”
Both were first time candidates.
State Senate 43
Incumbent state Senator Ronald Ramsey easily secured his third term in office with a landslide victory of 79.8 percent of the vote (43,092 votes). The 94th district covers most of Rockdale County and a large portion of eastern DeKalb County.
Republican challenger and first time candidate Diana Williams received 20.2 percent (10,937 votes).
"The voters spoke clearly," said Ramsey. "The economy clearly has an impact on the citizens’ vote. There’s a lot of people hurting right now. Citizens look to the government and leadership to make things right. Government doesn’t always have all the answers. We have to look at private enterprise and individual resolve to solve these problems." He added that government can play a role in creating the right environment to help residents propsper.
"I think the success we realized last night has a lot to do with the level of service, the elected officials serving this area clearly this has a lot to do with the Democratic leadership as well," Ramsey said about the strong majorities collected by Democratic candidates in three of the four local General Assembly races with opposition. "From our educational system to the quality of water service we have here, I think the state could take significant lessons from Rockdale County."
Williams said the numbers were not a surprise for District 17.
“We weren’t shocked,” said Williams, a Rockdale resident and flight attendant trainer for Air Tran. “We were thinking the numbers would play out like that. It’s a very gerrymandered district.”
She said she did not see running again for office in the near future, having “seen very much the ugly side” of politics.
“I have no problem supporting those that do want to run for office,” she said. She added, “I don’t regret running whatsoever.” Running for office allowed her to meet a network of significant people in the capitol and in the county.
“I really hope things will get better here in Rockdale County, but unfortunately I don’t see them getting better.”
State Senate 17
Rick Jeffares appeared to have won the State Senate District 17 seat as of 11 p.m. on Tuesday night.
Jeffares, a Republican and former Henry County Commissioner, was leading the Democratic candidate, Jim Nichols, 59.4 percent to 40.6 percent with 78 percent of the precincts reporting.
“We’re glad to be here and we thank all of our volunteers,” Jeffares said. “It is a humbling experience to know that people trust you to go represent them.”
On a night where Democrats lost majority in the House of Representatives and had leads late in only seven of the Georgia House of Representative elections, Nichols looked toward political affiliations as a reason for the numbers.
“It was a tough night to have a ‘D’ behind your name,” Nichols said. “I think Democrats are really frustrated at a national level.”