After a long campaign, Georgia’s District 32 has elected a new state senator.
Physician Kay Kirkpatrick, a Republican, defeated her Democratic competition, attorney Christine Triebsch in Tuesday’s runoff election.
The final tally saw Kirkpatrick with 18,602 votes, or 57 percent, and Triebsch with 14,046 votes, or 43 percent, according to unofficial results from the Georgia Secretary of State’s office.
Kirkpatrick will replace former Sen. Judson Hill, a Republican who resigned to run for the seat vacated by former U.S. Rep. Tom Price, who left his District 6 seat to become U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary. Hill would go on to finish fourth in that race.
Speaking to the MDJ before the final results were tallied, Kirkpatrick said her campaign’s biggest strength has been its organization.
“I think that I’ve run a very organized and positive campaign, and we’ve done all of the things that we’ve needed to do as far as grassroots efforts and getting name recognition and getting the word out,” she said. “I also think I’ve had a pretty positive message, and I’ve tried to stay on that positive message throughout.”
Also speaking before the final results, Kennesaw State University political science professor Kerwin Swint said a Kirkpatrick win would not be unexpected because of District 32’s history of going red.
“That’s the kind of situation sort of like the 6th (Congressional District) where Democrats normally can’t compete in an election,” Swint said. “Also similar to the 6th, you have a special election where you have all the candidates on the same ballot, so I think that the nature of special election offered an opportunity for Democrats to be more competitive than normal.”
Swint was referring to the race’s April 18 “jungle primary,” which included eight candidates of both parties vying for the District 32 seat on the ballot.
Swint said the crowded field is the biggest reason a Democrat made it to the runoff, but he said there is another.
“Reason No. 2 is the enthusiasm of the Democratic party in the 6th District right now, much higher than Republicans,” he said.
Speaking to the MDJ before the results came in, Triebsch said her campaign’s biggest challenge was running as a political first-timer. But she said if she lost, she plans on running again for a different position in the future.
“Either way, this is the beginning of the road for me and my volunteers,” Triebsch said. “I’m very excited.”