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Carol Fullerton considering legal challenge to Darrel Ealum's House 153 runoff win

Absentee ballots were the key to Darrel Ealums upset victory over the three-term incumbent

Darrel Ealum, who defeated incumbent Carol Fullerton in the Georgia House District 153 Democratic runoff Tuesday, said the reason he unseated Fullerton was because he and his campaign staff “outworked” the three-term state representative. (File Photo)

Darrel Ealum, who defeated incumbent Carol Fullerton in the Georgia House District 153 Democratic runoff Tuesday, said the reason he unseated Fullerton was because he and his campaign staff “outworked” the three-term state representative. (File Photo)

ALBANY — As far as Darrel Ealum is concerned, the Georgia House District 153 election ended with Tuesday night with his four-plus point victory over incumbent Carol Fullerton. Fullerton, however, has not conceded the election.

“I’m not happy with the way things turned out, but you never are when you lose an election,” said Fullerton, who said she wants to change the way absentee balloting is conducted. “We are still thinking of contesting the election and we are talking with an attorney on the best course of action.”

With all 15 Dougherty County precincts in 153 Democratic Primary runoff reporting Tuesday, unofficial results had Fullerton with a 1,451-1,176 vote lead over Ealum in the hotly contested runoff.

There were, however, still at least 2,081 early in-person and absentee mail-in votes to tabulate once the precincts reported to the Government Center, which were more than enough to keep the results in doubt. Of those, 1,352 were cast in the House 153 race. Once those votes were counted, Ealum leaped ahead for a 2,118-1,945 win.

More specifically, Ealum crushed Fullerton 512-130 in absentee mail-in ballot voting, providing his margin of victory. He also had a 52-vote margin advantage in the 710 in-person votes cast during the early voting period.

“I don’t know if or we will file, but the legal process takes time,” Fullerton said. “If we do this, we will do it for the good of Dougherty County. I want to change the way absentee balloting is conducted in Dougherty County forever.”

For his part, Ealum said any challenge from Fullerton would amount to nothing more than sour grapes.

“Their problem is that we surprised her with a legal, perfectly executed strategy of getting out absentee ballot applications,” Ealum said. “They had no idea of what we were doing until a week or so before the election. By the time they figured it out, it was too late.

“We worked six solid weeks of going door-to-door before the election. They didn’t think we could pull it off and we just flatout outworked her. It’s really that simple.”

The Dougherty County School Board District 6 runoff was sedate by comparison. Dean Phinazee, making his third run at the seat, eased out to an early lead over Princess Milledge and never looked back, rolling to a 618-498 victory.

“If you believe the old adage ‘the third time’s the charm,’ it certainly applies in this case,” Phinazee said. “I am elated with the victory and being it was my third try at the same seat, it certainly makes it that much sweeter.

“Right now, I want to learn as much about the School Board as I can. I am looking forward to working with the board and Superintendent (Butch) Mosely.”

The results are complete but unofficial. The winners will be sworn into office in January.