Athens-area Democrats Celebrating Wins in House District 117, 119 Seats
The Athens-Clarke County delegation to the Georgia General Assembly looks very different today after two surprise victories by Democrats in Tuesday’s special elections. Deborah Gonzales beat Republican Houston Gaines with approximately 53% of the vote in district 117, while Jonathan Wallace bested three Republicans in District 119, winning nearly 57% of the vote and easily avoiding a runoff. Those wins change the Athens-Clarke delegation from a 4-1 Republican majority to a 3-2 Democratic advantage.
Tom Crawford, a political journalist and editor of The Georgia Report, an online political news service based in Atlanta, said the results surprised even veteran political observers.
“It was a huge surprise to everybody,” Crawford said, “also probably the best news for Georgia Democrats in a long, long time.”
Both Gonzales and Wallace were buoyed in part by heavier than normal turnout in Athens-Clarke County, where unofficial counts show well over 20% turnout. Both Democrats won easily in Athens-Clarke, which Crawford says is attributable in part to the shadow cast over the races by President Donald Trump.
“I think a part of the special sauce obviously was the anti-Trump sentiment you saw in a lot of state races across the United States and some of that slopped over into Georgia,” Crawford said.
Both Democrats won heavily in ACC, with Gonzales taking about 64% of the vote in Clarke County and Wallace winning with over 75% in Clarke.
Gonzales and Wallace will have one session in the Georgia House before they face opposition in the 2018 elections.