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From left: Frank and Donna Lachance join Andy and Ann Smith and their son, Michael Smith, in awaiting election results at the Smith home in Indian Hills on Tuesday.

In the race for District 2 Cobb County commissioner, Fitz Johnson had a lead over his two Republican competitors by midnight Tuesday.

The race couldn’t be called by then.

Three Republicans — Johnson, Kevin Nicholas and Andy Smith — are vying for the chance to take on Democrat Jerica Richardson in the Nov. 3 general election. If a runoff is required, that election will be held on Aug. 11.

The winner of the general election will replace Commissioner Bob Ott, who opted not to run for reelection.

As of midnight, Johnson had garnered 2,278 votes, of the total 5,168 votes cast in the Republican primary. Next was Smith with 1,459 votes and behind him, Nicholas with 1,431 votes. Richardson received 7,107 votes in the Democratic primary by midnight.

Nicholas and his family eagerly awaited elections results from their home Tuesday evening.

The vice president at Ingenious Med, a hospital software company headquartered in the Galleria, said he was proud of his campaign’s ability to reach voters on a “one-to-one basis.” He said he and a small group made more than 17,000 phone calls and visited 2,000 homes.

“That kind of grassroots effort is what you need to do to win an election like this,” he said. “As far as what we could have done better, I’ve got to be honest with you — I don’t want to sound cocky about it — but I think we executed on everything we needed to do for this campaign strategy.”

Nicholas said he felt his neighbors concerns and his platform were aligned, so the connections and campaign messaging came easily.

Johnson, a businessman from Smyrna, said only he, his wife and his brother had gathered to await election results Tuesday night.

Johnson touted his campaign’s ability to adapt to the abrupt changes that COVID-19 forced for his and others’ campaigns. But those changes also meant far fewer opportunities for meet-and-greets and other in-person events.

But the use of social media, mailed materials and “numerous, numerous phone calls” helped to carry the campaign through, he said.

As he too prepared to enjoy an evening of dinner and socializing with a small group of friends and family at his home in Indian Hills, Smith told the MDJ the COVID-19 pandemic hurt his ability to make direct connections with voters.

“I wish we had an opportunity to talk with more people,” the former Cobb planning commissioner said. “We had very little face-to-face communication with voters, and that was really what we thought would be our strongest effort.”

But, he said, his campaign seemed to market itself well with a social media presence, especially given that he’d had little experience with it when he started his campaign. He said he also sent information through the mail and called voters directly.

And whether or not he was to win or lose, Smith said, he’s headed to the beach after the election.

“I’ve been working on this campaign 16 hours a day for at least the last month,” he said. “We’re all worn out.”

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Follow Thomas Hartwell on Twitter at twitter.com/MDJThomas.

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