Voters Choose New Georgia State Senator As Runoff Set In State House Race

ATLANTA (AP) — Voters in west Georgia chose a former state House member as their new state senator on Tuesday, while a race in a state House seat near Augusta is headed for a March 12 runoff.

In state Senate District 30, Republican Tim Bearden of Carrollton won the majority of votes, according to final unofficial results. Four candidates had run to replace former state Sen. Mike Dugan, who resigned to run for Congress.

In state House District 125, Columbia County Commissioner Gary Richardson of Evans and conservative commentator C.J. Pearson of Grovetown will face each other in a runoff on the same day as Georgia’s presidential primary. They finished first and second in five-candidate field.

Bearden, 56, was elected to the state House four times before former Gov. Nathan Deal appointed him as director of the Georgia Public Safety Training Center. Bearden is now the government affairs manager for a billboard company.

“I am honored and humbled by the outpouring of support to make this happen,” Bearden said in a statement Tuesday night.

Bearden beat fellow Republicans Renae Bell of Tallapoosa and Robert “Bob” Smith, as well as Democrat Ashley Kecskes Godwin of Carrollton. The district covers all of Haralson County and parts of Carroll, Douglas and Paulding counties.

Richardson and Pearson are vying to replace Republican Rep. Barry Fleming, who stepped down to become a superior court judge. They bested Republican and farmer James Steed of Grovetown, Democrat and cosmetologist Kay Turner of Grovetown and Libertarian and software developer John Turpish of Grovetown. The district covers parts of Columbia and McDuffie counties.

Richardson a car wash owner who can’t run again for county commission because of term limits, touted his experience in public service.

“We still have more ground to cover,” Richardson told supporters. “You can count on my continued commitment and determination.”

Pearson overcame a residency challenge while winning endorsements from hard-right conservatives and campaigning on a Trump aligned-platform. The 21-year-old Pearson has been opposed by Gov. Brian Kemp's political organization after Pearson helped manage the primary campaign of Kemp challenger Vernon Jones in 2022.

“Now more than ever, our state is in need of a new generation of conservative leadership who will take on the radical left, stand up for Georgians and fight for America's next generation,” Pearson said in a statement.