Loudermilk, Hice win GOP congressional races

Former state Sen. Barry Loudermilk convincingly defeated former U.S. Rep. Bob Barr Tuesday in their bruising Republican primary runoff for the Atlanta area’s 11th Congressional District seat.

Loudermilk, who campaigned with strong support from tea party groups, will now head to Washington as no Democrats have gotten on the ballot for the 11th District, which covers all of Bartow and Cherokee counties and parts of Cobb and Fulton counties.

Also Tuesday evening, Jody Hice, a former Baptist minister from Monroe who ran with substantial tea party backing, bested Jackson trucking company executive Mike Collins in the GOP primary runoff for Georgia’s 10th Congressional District, a vast territory that stretches from eastern Gwinnett County to the Savannah River.

Loudermilk took the stage at his Election Night party minutes after his campaign called the runoff around 9:30 p.m. Tuesday.

“We tried something different in this campaign,” Loudermilk said. “We tried to experiment and run a positive campaign.”

Loudermilk and Barr were forced into a runoff in May after neither collected more than 50 percent of the vote in a six-way race for the Republican nomination. The two were vying to replace U.S. Rep. Phil Gingrey, who fell short in his campaign for a U.S. Senate seat this year.

Barr addressed his dwindling crowd of supporters in Marietta just after 10 p.m. Tuesday, after conceding defeat and calling Loudermilk.

“Don’t get discouraged,” Barr said. “There’s still a lot of work to be done. I will continue to do what I can for our Republican Party and the cause of good government. This is a battle that never ends. The forces of evil, the forces of liberalism in Washington remain alive and well.”

Barr said he offered his support and assistance to Loudermilk and state GOP Chairman John Padgett.

Loudermilk campaigned as a strict constitutionalist who opposes amnesty for immigrants without papers and who wants to repeal Obamacare and eliminate the U.S. Education Department. A former federal prosecutor, Barr highlighted his four terms in Congress and his work helping lead impeachment proceedings against President Bill Clinton.

Their race grew increasingly personal – and nasty — in recent weeks. Barr accused Loudermilk of embellishing his record in the Air Force, which Loudermilk denied. Barr also attacked Loudermilk over an $80,500 settlement the state Legislature reached in a racial discrimination case involving Loudermilk’s former legislative secretary. Loudermilk said he wasn’t involved in the secretary’s firing or in her settlement.

Firing back, Loudermilk accused Barr of flip-flopping on several issues – including immigration enforcement — and blasted him for endorsing Eric Holder for attorney general in 2009. Barr denied Loudermilk’s allegations and pointed out he later called for Holder’s resignation.

In May, Hice and Collins emerged as the top two vote-getters in a seven-way race for the GOP nomination in the 10th District. They competed to replace U.S. Rep. Paul Broun, who ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate this year. Hice will now face Democrat Ken Dious, an Athens attorney, in November in the solidly Republican district.

Carrying Broun’s endorsement, Hice campaigned on a pledge to apply the four-part litmus test Broun has used to judge legislative proposals, including that they must meet the original intent of the Constitution’s framers, fit the “Judeo-Christian biblical principles” that form the nation’s foundation and that they are necessary and affordable. Collins emphasized his plan to overhaul the federal government and boost the nation’s economy.

In the GOP primary runoff for Georgia’s 1st Congressional District, state Sen. Buddy Carter of Pooler, who has deep ties in the district and the backing of the Republican establishment, defeated Savannah surgeon Bob Johnson, who had the support of national tea party groups — including hundreds of thousands of dollars in TV ads from the conservative Club for Growth. The two were seeking to replace U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston, who was competing in a GOP primary runoff with David Perdue for Saxby Chambliss’ seat in the U.S. Senate.

Carter will face the winner of the Democratic primary runoff in the district, which has a heavy Republican lean. UPS manager Brian Reese of Savannah defeated Richmond Hill Realtor Amy Tavio in the Democratic runoff Tuesday evening.

Staff writers Janel Davis and Nick Fouriezos contributed to this article.

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