Republicans eye long-time Democratic seats - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Republicans eye long-time Democratic seats

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November 1, 2002 

ALBANY - Since 1866 when Georgia voters have gone to the polls, it's been quite a losing record for republicans.

"We haven't had a governor, lieutanant governor, republicanly controlled house or senate ever in this state," Gary Smith, Dougherty GOP Chairman, said. "I think people are starting to wake up to the fact it's better to have competition."

The state's former Democratic Party Executive Director says candidates are noticing the races tightening as well.

"See lot of dollars not only spent on Governor's race, but generally assembly races as well," Tommy Coleman said. "Seems to say things are more competitive than they were in the past."

"I think we can pick up a lot of seats," Smith said.

So what seats are the Republicans eyeing? Carden Summers versus Democratic Incumbent Rooney Bowen in District 13 is one.  It's a district that voted 65 percent for Bush in the 2000 election.

John Bulloch versus Harold Ragan in District 11 is another. Bulloch joined the senate race after redistricting was unfavorable to him in the house. Republicans also hope Tyron Elliot can defeat George Hooks in District 14 where some new counties will have a chance to decide if Hooks stays in office.

So could Ragan, Bowen, and Hooks, now in their 70s, 60s, and 50s respectively be defeated now?

 "They'll all win, they've provided great service to Southwest Georgia," Coleman said.

In the house races, redistricting could really play a factor. It's a benefit to Republicans in some cases like House 137.

"Ed Rynders will win because the seat was drawn to combine two republican seats," Smith said. 

But overall the districts were drawn to the democrats advantage.

"Standard practice for party in power to make sure stay in power," Coleman said.

The governing party ultimately will be decided by voters next Tuesday.

Political analysts say the race for Governor and U.S. Senate could have a big impact on local races. They predict whichever party gets the most voters out for those races will also do well in the General Assembly.

posted at 5:30 p.m. by dave.d'marko@walb.com