The race to succeed former state Rep. Bert Reeves, R-Marietta, is headed to a runoff.
Republican Devan Seabaugh and Democrat Priscilla Smith will face each other in a runoff election July 13 after finishing as the top two vote-getters in a special election Tuesday.
The pair were among five candidates vying to replace Reeves as the representative of Georgia’s 34th House District, which includes Kennesaw and part of Marietta.
The race was a “jungle primary,” meaning all candidates ran on one ballot, regardless of party. To win outright, a candidate had to receive the majority of votes (50% plus one).
Seabaugh finished at the top of the pack, with 3,337 votes, or 47.1%.
Smith came in second with 1,740 votes, or 24.6%.
Democrat Sam Hensley Jr., Republican David Blinkhorn and Libertarian Chris Neill finished with 15.8%, 11.8% and .8% of the vote, respectively.
Seabaugh and Smith led throughout the night.
Seabaugh, an executive at Metro Atlanta Ambulance Service, watched the results come in at the Governors Gun Club in Kennesaw with a crowd of supporters, including Commissioner JoAnn Birrell, Public Service Commissioner Tricia Pridemore, former Marietta Mayor Bill Dunaway and former Kennesaw Mayor Mark Mathews, among others.
“I would attribute it to, just the conversations we’ve had with the constituents in District 34,” he said when asked about a potential victory. “I think our issues are right in line with what their issues are: voter integrity, protecting our Second Amendment rights, and just the conservative values that they want to see policy in Georgia follow.”
Smith, an artist and former educator, watched the results come in at Kennesaw’s El Taco Azteca with a group of dedicated supporters that included former statehouse candidates Kyle Rinaudo and Connie Di Ciccio. When asked about her early lead, Smith gestured toward her supporters.
“Everybody pitched in and everybody worked their fannys off ... and we knocked on people’s doors and asked them what they wanted,” she said. “A lot of what I’m hearing is, they want honesty. A lot of what I’m hearing is, they want healthcare. They want the minimum wage expanded. They want to stop leaving money on the table, they want to fully fund education.”
Reeves won reelection to the seat last November, besting Smith with 56% of the vote. But in May, he resigned to take a high-level job at the Georgia Institute of Technology, triggering the special election.
Turnout was relatively low, typical of special elections. The district has about 42,000 registered voters. About 2,900 — 6.9% of voters — voted in the three weeks of early voting. About 4,000 more voted Tuesday, bringing overall turnout to almost 17%.
Cobb elections director Janine Eveler said the last special election held in Cobb, in 2011, saw turnout of only 7.5% of registered voters.