LAWRENCEVILLE - Republicans secured a wedge-driving 41st seat in the U.S. Senate with the overwhelming victory of Saxby Chambliss for a second term Tuesday.
The 1,191,123 to 872,459 trouncing over Democrat Jim Martin, with 95 percent of precincts reporting, came a month after Chambliss came just shy of the required 50 percent in the general election - the night that Democrats claimed victory for the White House and in elections across America.
With a supermajority on the line in Congress, both Republicans and Democrats focused on Georgia. Political heavyweights from Bill Clinton to John McCain stumped for the candidates in the past month, with Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin participating in an election eve rally for Chambliss at the Arena at Gwinnett Center. Palin said a Chambliss victory could begin the rebuilding of the Republican party.
"Our victory tonight sends a strong message to Washington, D.C., that Georgia still cares about conservative values - but this win is only the beginning," Chambliss said. "We have a lot of work to do over the next six years and I'm proud to have the opportunity to ensure Georgia has a strong voice in the Senate."
As unofficial results came in throughout Georgia, Chambliss mounted a huge lead, which Martin could not overcome as results came in from the Democratic strongholds of DeKalb and Fulton.
In Gwinnett, a Republican stronghold, Chambliss took 63 percent of the votes, leading Martin 102,457 to 58,999, with one precinct yet to be counted at press time.
Martin, a former state lawmaker who was Chambliss' fraternity brother at the University of Georgia, conceded just before 10 p.m.
'For me and my family and campaign team and all of you this is a sad moment," he said.
Both parties are still waiting to learn who will control a Minnesota Senate seat, currently embroiled in a recount, but Chambliss's victory puts a filibuster-proof supermajority out of reach for Democrats.
In Georgia, Republicans also won out in a runoff for Public Service Commissioner Tuesday. Lauren "Bubba" McDonald bested Democrat Jim Powell 1,102,113 to 838,661, with 95 percent of precincts reporting. McDonald, who is returning to the position he held for four years, also won in Gwinnett, 97,311 to 57,539.
But a nonpartisan race for the Georgia Court of Appeals remained tighter at press time. Atlanta attorney Sara Doyle lead Lawrenceville lawyer Mike Sheffield 842,538 to 785,561, with 95 percent of precincts in. In Gwinnett, Doyle came out less than 1,000 votes ahead of Sheffield, 67,425 to 66,510 with 99.4 percent of the vote in.
While turnout was low compared to November, nearly 40 percent of Gwinnettians went to the polls. The percentage came close to matching the county's 1992 turnout of the last U.S. Senate runoff in Georgia. In that race, Paul Coverdell beat Wyche Fowler, even though Fowler had more votes in the general election.