Republican Mitchell Kaye won the Georgia House District 45 special election runoff, defeating Democrat Dustin McCormick, according to unofficial election results posted Tuesday night.
Kaye won with 56.5% of the vote to McCormick’s 44.5%. There were 4,964 votes cast — a turnout of 11.44%.
“It feels very good,” said Kaye, who previously represented House District 37 from 1993 to 2003. “There was a lot of hard work from a dedicated team of Republican Party activists at the county level, and the state level, and old friends and new friends. And I couldn’t have won without all their help.”
Kaye will serve out the remaining term of former state Rep. Matt Dollar, a Republican who resigned in February, triggering the special election. Kaye’s term expires at the end of 2022. As the 2022 legislative session has ended, the winner is unlikely to cast any votes during the remainder of the term, unless a special session of the legislature is called.
“There is important work that’s done outside the 40-day legislative session — constituent services, as well as fleshing out important public policy issues for the next session,” Kaye said.
Kaye was elected under the current boundaries of House District 45. On May 24, a separate primary election is being held for the full 2023-24 term in the seat, under the new boundaries drawn in the legislative redistricting process. Early voting for that primary has already begun.
“First and foremost I want to thank all of my supporters,” McCormick said in a video posted to social media Wednesday. “While it was not the outcome we had hoped for, I am incredibly proud of what we have achieved and accomplished over the past two months.”
McCormick is also the presumptive Democratic nominee in that race. State Rep. Sharon Cooper, R-east Cobb, who currently represents House District 43, is running as a Republican in that race, and faces Carminthia Moore in the primary.
Dollar represented the east Cobb-based seat before resigning to take a job as deputy commissioner of the Technical College System of Georgia.
Kaye was the top vote-getter in the first round of voting on April 5 in the special election, bagging 41.7% of the vote. McCormick finished second, ahead of the two other Republicans in the race, with 40.5%.
The combined Republican vote share in the first round was nearly 60%.
The current District 45, like many in metro Atlanta’s suburbs, has become more competitive for Democrats in recent years. After running unopposed in 2016, Dollar won reelection with 59.3% in 2018, and 55% in 2020.
McCormick said the special election had given him an opportunity to cut his teeth and be better prepared to take on Cooper. And he invoked the news that the Supreme Court seems to be poised to overturn Roe vs. Wade to issue a call to action to Democrats.
“If you’re upset and pissed off like I am, I need you to put your time and money where your mouth is,” McCormick said. “I need your help to activate the Democrats in our area, I need your help through donations — the fight starts today. And with your help, I will turn the seat blue.”
Under the new lines, which will be used for the May 24 primary and November general elections, District 45 has an estimated vote share of 55% for Republicans and 45% for Democrats, according to the Princeton Gerrymandering Project at Princeton University.
The turnout Tuesday was even lower than in the first round, when the district of more than 43,000 registered voters saw only 5,454 votes — a turnout of 12.6%.
“I’ve been in a lot of races, but I’ve never been in a special election, and it’s all turnout-driven. We worked really hard to drive the turnout. … It just showed that some people remembered me when I first ran 30 years ago, and they’re still supportive,” Kaye said. “… It was a good win, a team effort. … I’m just gonna take it one day at a time right now. And just enjoy the victory, and who knows what the future holds?”