Since besting former state Rep. John Deffenbaugh in a Republican runoff Aug. 11, Mike Cameron is working to hit the ground running as representative for state House District 1.
According to the Georgia Secretary of State’s website, Cameron received 1,885 votes (56.85%) in Walker County to Deffenbaugh’s 1,431 (43.15%). District-wide results nearly mirrored Walker County’s with 2,857 ballots (56.35%) cast for Cameron, compared to 2,213 (43.65%) for Deffenbaugh. The results are unofficial until certified by the Secretary of State.
“I already have a lot of contacts around the state after serving as chairman of the Walker County GOP, including our statewide elected officials,” Cameron said. “I have been to the legislature many times and know a lot of people already.
“I will spend time learning processes and procedures down there,” Cameron said. “But most importantly, I’ll be going around the district meeting with election officials, business leaders and citizens in a more concentrated way than in the campaign to get their take on things.”
Cameron will take the seat as no Democratic or third-party opposition qualified to be on the Nov. 3 ballot. All of Dade County and portions of Walker comprise District 1.
Neither candidate received a majority vote in the June 9 primary. Deffenbaugh led with 3,561 votes (42%) between Dade and Walker counties. Meanwhile, Cameron received 3,163 total ballots (37%) cast in the primary with Vikki Mills, the other candidate in the race and a former registered nurse, netting 1,808 votes (21%).
“I wish the best for Mike Cameron in all of his new responsibilities for District 1,” Deffenbaugh said.
Cameron credits his victory to an effective social media campaign and to a heightened profile after local debates. Facebook ads reached thousands of people and generated a “great” response, he said.
“The game changers in this race were the debates,” he explained. “The first debate, which was in Dade County, turned this race around for me. When people saw the three of us on stage together, people in both counties took notice. After the Dade debate, my phone lit up. The momentum was with our campaign. The same for the UCTV debate.
“The problem was that the debates were late in the election cycle, and I didn’t have time to catch John (Deffenbaugh) who had better name recognition,” he said. “After the primary, we kept our foot on the gas, using TV and radio appearances in addition to social media.”
During his campaign, Cameron said he wanted to take his message of limited government and personal freedom to the voters.
Cameron said he worked as a liaison for Republican candidates during the 2018 state campaigns and helped lead the effort to transition Walker County’s government from a sole commissioner to a board of commissioners.
He has 32 years of experience in the health insurance industry, working at a national level on legislation that affected people with Medicare, he said. He has worked with a local school and on the redevelopment of downtown Rossville.
His platform priorities included listening to voters’ voices and concerns to ensure their representation, making sure Georgia is fiscally sound, combating human trafficking and senior abuse, and working with other House members to strengthen work started by the Heartbeat Bill.
Cameron complimented his opponents in the race, calling them “both nice people.”
He believes Mills was at a disadvantage in the campaign because she is relatively new to the area and entered the state House race late. He speculates that voters sought a “conservative alternative” to Deffenbaugh, whom he described as “a very decent, kind man.”
“To the many supporters who helped me in so many ways, I want to say a big thank you,” Deffenbaugh said. “Running a campaign takes the many devoted talents of others.”
He previously served three terms in the Georgia House before being narrowly defeated by Colton Moore in May 2018; however, Moore did not seek re-election, instead challenging incumbent Jeff Mullis for the state Senate District 53 seat. Mullis defeated Moore in the June 9 primary.
Previously he was elected and served four years on the Dade County Commission, one year as chairman. He said he also served as the Dade County GOP chairman for several years.
A graduate of Covenant College, he is a retired U.S. Navy veteran and a board member of the West Brow Fire Department. He has worked as an operations manager for Horizon Electronics for more than 30 years, he said.
Deffenbaugh said during the campaign that working with the public in a variety of areas — in business, in the military and as a past House representative — equipped him with problem solving expertise and experience in building relationships.
He said he felt it was important for children, from a young age, to be taught and to understand the U.S. form of government to equip them to preserve America’s freedoms.