Despite FairTax support, Huckabee edged in Gwinnett

Last Saturday, U.S. Rep. John Linder led a rally in Lawrenceville for his FairTax proposal, giving about a thousand supporters marching orders to go support Republican candidate Mike Huckabee at the polls on Super Tuesday.

Huckabee declared victory in Georgia three days later, but the former governor of Arkansas didn't win Linder's home county of Gwinnett.

Linder, R-Duluth, said he was proud of Huckabee's achievement, but he wasn't surprised that Gwinnettians gave the edge to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, 28,921 votes or 35.45 percent to Huckabee's 27,815 or 34.09 percent. John McCain, who gained a large margin in the delegate count after Tuesday's returns in other states, pulled in 21,624 votes or 26.51 percent in Gwinnett.

"Romney did well in the affluent areas," Linder said, adding that he heard of many people who voted for Huckabee solely because of his support for the FairTax, a proposal to do away with the federal income tax in favor of a national sales tax.

"Huckabee won the 7th District," Linder pointed out, referring to the area he represents in Congress. "He had huge margins in Barrow and Walton County."

The tally in Barrow, which had a turnout of 39.18 percent, was 3,323 votes or 44 percent for Huckabee, 1,960 votes or 25.95 percent for Romney and 1,947 votes or 25.78 percent for McCain.

As in Gwinnett, Barack Obama won among Democrats in Barrow - 1,948 or 51.58 percent to Hillary Clinton's 1,667 votes or 44.14 percent.

Linder said he is proud of the Huckabee campaign, but he believes McCain will quickly sew up the nomination. Now, he's hopeful that Huckabee could become a candidate for vice president and he's already talked to McCain about the FairTax proposal.

"He elevated the FairTax to a level I couldn't bring it," Linder said of Huckabee. "Doing that well is a credit to the man and the message. You have a lot more people who know what it is."

Tuesday's presidential preference primary brought the highest turnout in Georgia history, Secretary of State Karen Handel said Wednesday.

A total of 1,966,600 votes were cast - 44 percent of active registered voters. That surpassed the previous historic high of 40 percent in the 1988 presidential primary.

"Turnout in our state has been very low in past years, so it's a very positive sign that so many Georgians made the time to exercise one of our most important rights," Handel said. "Our state's county elections officials and the thousands of poll workers are to be commended for their management of the election process amid record voter turnout in many parts of the state. As we expected, the process ran smoothly."

With provisional ballots yet to be counted, Gwinnett's turnout was 150,805 or 45.96 percent, which also set a presidential primary record, Elections Superintendent Lynn Ledford said.

Political Notebook appears in the Thursday and Sunday editions of the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Camie Young can be reached via e-mail at camie.young@gwinnettdailypost.com.