The Senate Odds

With over a year and one legislative session to go, let’s look at how the Senate stacks up.

It looks very much like the Republicans are going to be playing defense. They have two seats that are in danger — though one of those has a bit to do with the Senator being a known incumbent in a newly drawn district. So, it helps to look from the GOP perspective since they are in charge, but we’ll cover the Dems too.

First up, there is an open seat being vacated by Brian Kemp. Kemp, running out of Clark County in the 46th, won the seat with 51.6% of the vote in a Presidential election year. This seat is heavily predicted to flip to the Democrats unless the GOP gets in there now and gets very organized. Kemp is running for a statewide office and rumor has it that Kemp’s brother is going to seek that seat.

Second, John Bulloch beat Murray Campbell in the 11th. Right now, Bulloch has $11704.47 cash on hand. Bullock won with 53.2% of the vote, getting just under 3,000 more votes than Campbell.

Third, Johnny Grant beat Faye Smith 52.1% to 47.9%. Again, Grant got just under 3,000 more votes than Smith. Right now, Grant has $11,414.13 cash on hand. Grant’s situation can partly be explained by his running against Smith, then an incumbent. While the district for Smith was mostly new, she undoubtedly still had higher name recognition in areas. She also was well funded.

With both Bulloch and Grant, the Republican Caucus is seeking to help them raise their profile. Higher name id will help them.

On the fringe to worry about, there is Ross Tolleson. Tolleson, from Houston County, was placed in new territory in 2004. He won with 56% of the vote over Dan King, who had the Dubose Porter media “empire” in Dublin to help him. Ross, the incumbent, has $59,129.57 on hand, and now is chairing a prime committee that should help him attract donors — his committee deals with the Department of Natural Resources and its Environmental Protection Division.

Complicating things slightly, Tolleson and several other Senators use Joel McElhannon as their consultant. Joel is handling these in addition to Casey Cagle’s statewide race for Lt. Gov. Should Cagle make it through the primary, Joel is going to need some help from the party to stabilize these incumbents.

With the Democrats, the races were even closer in 2004. J.B. Powell beat Randy Hall in the 23rd with 50.4% to 49.6%. Interestingly, as of this morning, Randy Hall filed a disclosure showing $1365.80 cash on hand, and the incumbent, Powell, has not filed a disclosure.

In the 6th District, Doug Stoner beat Ginger Collins 53.7% to 46.3%. That district is a fast growing part of west to northwest Atlanta and leans Democrat based on demographics. Those two may be set for a rematch next year. Collins is showing $12,194.73 on hand with Stoner coming in at $19,057.58. Stoner will have the advantage in the race because he is the incumbent now and the Dems are going to do everything possible to take back the Senate.

Lastly, on the Dem side, there is a possible fight for Tim Golden. Golden, running in the 8th District, won with 56.1% of the vote. But, he only has $3,528.61 on hand right now and very little of that new money is from individuals.

The Republicans are in the position of playing defense. They’d be wise to unite around a common message that cuts across the perimeter into rural Georgia and try both defending their seats and picking off a few more from the Democrats. It never hurts to expand the majority. In the meantime, the GOP better be building its grassroots base to build some cushion.

2 comments

  1. Tater Tate says:

    Interesting.

    I don’t think Tolleson can be beat barring any surprises. The Dan King campaign spent a lot of money on a very negative campaign against Tolleson and got nowhere. Tolleson should get only token opposition at best.

    Grant may get a rematch and without the President, this one could be much tighter. However, with a new chairmanship, and a commitment from leadership for all the help needed, this one should be retained.

    Collins has not got a chance against Stoner given the way the district is currently drawn.

    Bulloch should hold onto this seat, but he needs to fundraise. Both his and Grant’s numbers stink. Some freshman senators raised 50K or more during the same period.

    J.B. Powell outworked Hall last time. Hall will need a lot of money and have to work very hard to beat Powell in my opinion. A beaten incumbent rarely retakes his seat.

    More interesting will be whether or not someone challenges Renee Unterman. I understand that is a possibility. But it would be a primary challenge and the winner would get the seat.

    The other question is whether the trial lawyers will challenge a few of the freshmen who dared to support tort reform because of tremendous pressure from leadership. Or will they focus on the weak Republicans only? Time will tell.

    And you forgot to mention Preston Smith. With his difficulties in Rome and at home, will he face a primary challenge? You can count on a strong trial lawyer financed democrat to take a shot at Smith remembering the family values campaign he ran on previously.

    Thanks for stimulating my thoughts.

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