Voters pushed Republican Matt Barton to victory in Tuesday’s state House District 5 special election runoff.
“It was a great night for me and my family and the state of the Georgia,” Barton said Tuesday night. “I’m just humbled to have earned their support in Gordon and Murray counties.”
Barton beat out fellow Republican Jesse Vaughn in the runoff by 313 votes. Barton carried 55.03 percent of the 3,111 votes cast to Vaughn’s 44.97 percent. Barton will fill the seat left open by the death of the late Rep. John Meadows last fall.
In the Jan. 8 special election, which featured six candidates (five Republicans and one Democrat), Vaughn had finished first with 33.72 percent to Barton’s 23.15 percent. With no candidate earning more than 50 percent of the vote, the top two finishers moved on to a runoff.
Shortly after the 11 polling locations closed at 7 p.m., Vaughn jumped out to a lead when early voting totals were reported. However, Barton pulled closer after earning 67.06 percent of the vote from the only Murray County precinct. Then when four of the 10 Gordon County precincts completely reported results, Barton took the lead and never relinquished it as the remaining precincts came in.
Earlier in the day, Barton used Facebook to share photos of him making stops at as many polling locations as he could.
“Everybody counts,” Barton said of why he made the stops. “I just wanted to get out and try and see everybody that I could.”
Barton said Tuesday night that he is unsure when exactly he will be sworn in to join the current legislative session, as voting results still need to be certified. However, he said he is ready to get started, focusing on business, lowering taxes and all around making voters proud of their confidence in him.
Vaughn shared his disappointment in losing the opportunity to serve, but was proud of his campaign’s efforts and did not have any regrets, even sharing a quote from Teddy Roosevelt — “the credit belongs to the man in the arena” not “those timid souls who neither know victory or defeat.”
“We ran the race we wanted to run … and obviously that wasn’t enough to get use over the finish line,” Vaughn said. “We put ourselves out there because we believe in our country — we believe in our state.”
When deciding to run for the open seat, Vaughn said one of the reasons he moved forward was because he believes District 5 can be an example for other communities across the state, on how to recruit and support industry, embolden small business owners and develop young people into career-ready individuals.
With the election loss still looming, Vaughn did not want to commit on whether or not he will run for office again.
“I’m a little weary tonight to say that one way or the other,” he said. “But if there are issues that I believe in and there’s a position that I believe in … and I feel led to do it, yeah I would do it again.”
Calhoun is still Vaughn’s home and it will continue to be so, he said.
“I’m still right here,” he said. “I’m gonna stay right here and keep practicing law and fighting the fight that needs fighting.”