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Marin pulls ahead of challenger

LAWRENCEVILLE - State Rep. Pedro Marin gained an early lead on challenger Torry Lewis on Tuesday in the Democratic primary election for State House District 96.

A total of 439 ballots were cast for Marin and 333 for Lewis (57 to 43 percent) - a difference of 106 votes.

Lewis, 22, sought to become the youngest representative ever elected to the Georgia General Assembly, but Marin's experience as a two-term incumbent seemed to woo more voters in the end.

"I am really blessed and honored that District 96 gave me the opportunity to represent them at the state Capitol for a third term," Marin said. "There is much work to do, especially I want to work hard with the CIDs (self-taxing community improvement districts) that are in my district to get that really going."

Although Lewis was disheartened to see the disparity in votes, he said it won't be the last time he runs for political office.

"Any kind of way I can help my community or state, I'm going to be there," Lewis said.

The most contentious issue during the campaign was illegal immigration, a hot-button for candidates across the state but especially in District 96. The district encompasses Norcross and a small portion of Duluth, an area which has grown increasingly diverse over the past few decades with a large Latino and Asian immigrant population.

Marin did not support the Georgia Security and Immigration Compliance Act, which was passed during the 2006 legislative session. Lewis did.

The law is one of the strictest in the country, prohibiting most adult illegal immigrants in Georgia from receiving many public services. It also discourages employers from hiring illegal immigrants. Employers cannot receive state income tax benefits if they hire undocumented workers, and they must verify legal residency of any employees working on state contracts.