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Special election for late Georgia House Speaker's seat goes to runoff

Sheree Ralston
Sheree Ralston campaign
Sheree Ralston, wife of late Georgia House Speaker David Ralston, got about 45% of the vote in a January 3 runoff election for her late husband's seat. She faces banker Johnny Chastain in a January 31 runoff.

The widow of former Georgia House Speaker David Ralston and a Blue Ridge banker will face off in a January 31 runoff after none of five Republicans won a majority in a special election Tuesday to fill Ralston’s seat in House District 7.

Sheree Ralston, who now serves as the executive director of the Fannin County Development Authority, won about 45% of the vote, falling short of a required majority. Johnny Chastain, a Blue Ridge banker and also a member Fannin County Development Authority, won about 39% of the vote.

The seat covers Fannin and Gilmer counties, and part of Dawson County in north Georgia. Ralston has said she wants to continue her husband’s work to improve Georgia’s mental health system. Chastain campaigned on a pledge to abolish the state income tax.

David Ralston died on Nov. 16 at age 68, less than two weeks after he announced he was stepping down because of health concerns.