Hodges, Barnes winners

Photo by Laura Williams

Photo by Laura Williams

ALBANY, Ga. -- Georgia voters will pick between Democrat Roy Barnes and likely either Karen Handel or Nathan Deal in November's gubernatorial race.

Meanwhile, Ken Hodges, former district attorney for the Dougherty Judicial Circuit, appears to have handily won the Democratic nomination for Georgia's Attorney General.

With 52 percent of the vote counted, Barnes had a commanding lead over six Democratic contenders. He attracted 64 percent of the votes compared to 21 percent for his closest opponent, former Attorney General Thurbert Baker. David Poythress was a distant third.

The race for the GOP nomination was much closer. Handel pulled ahead with 31 percent of the vote with Deal running second at 25 percent. The top two Republican vote-getters will face each other in a runoff on Aug. 10. Eric Johnson was third with 19 percent of the vote.

Hodges had 67 percent of the votes reported, giving him a commanding lead over Rob Teilhet in the two-person race. Meanwhile, Sam Olens, Max Wood and Preston Smith were in a tight race to see who will oppose Hodges. Olens had a narrow lead at press time, but a runoff is expected.

Reached by telephone just before declaring victory Tuesday night, Hodges thanked southwest Georgia voters "who turned out for me in record numbers."

"It has been a wonderful campaign. We've been at it for 15 months. The folks have seen me prosecuting for 15 years and they know me and what I will do for them.

"It's not about seeking office. It is about seeking justice. I am excited about serving all of Georgia like I have served southwest Georgia.

"We know Georgians want somebody who will stand up against corruption, against predatory lenders and for families and the rights of all Georgians.

"I am looking forward to the next three and a half months and look forward to serving Georgia as attorney general."

Thomas County businessman Mike Keown also defeated two challengers to become the GOP nominee in November's election for Georgia's Second District in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Longtime incumbent Sanford Bishop did not have any opposition in the Democratic primary.

Georgia Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond also earned the right to challenge Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson in the November election.

Democrat Terry Coleman and Republican Mark Butler were the early leaders in the race for Labor Commissioner.

Former state Sen. J.B. Powell, who was unopposed, will face either Gary Black or Darwin Carter, both Republicans, for Georgia agriculture commissioner. Black had 75 percent of the vote with about 25 percent of the precincts reporting.

Incumbent Democrat ag chief Tommy Irvin is stepping down after more than four decades in office, which makes him one of the longest-serving elected officials in the country.