MOULTRIE -- Ed Rynders is the Republican nominee for Georgia House District 137, which includes chunks of Colquitt and four other counties.

Rynders won over 62 percent (1,313 votes to Ealum's 818) of the district. Rynders carried Colquitt County 219 votes to Ealum's 172. In the primary Aug. 20, Ealum claimed Colquitt County by six votes.

Compared to the 847 votes cast for District 137 in the primary, only 391 voters showed for the runoff, according to election officials.

"What a rush," Rynders said from his cell phone Tuesday night. "From the beginning, this was a grassroots campaign -- and I know that phrase is used too much in politics, but, legitimately, it was. People consistently told me, 'Ed, be honest with me,' and that's what we pledge to do. We're going to give them honest conservative government, because that's what they asked for. We're trying to do exactly what the people wanted, and we're going to always do that."

Rynders doesn't think that any one factor pushed him well past his prior 1 percent lead in the primary.

"I think that people just want to have the guy next door look them in the eye and tell them how they feel about something. I think people respect that," he said.

Ealum congratulated Rynders on his win.

"We worked hard. We did the things we felt like we needed to do to win," Ealum said, declining to give any speculations about the shift in the numbers even though he was endorsed by Ida Chambers.

"It's good to be a Republican. We've worked hard, and now we're going to get back to our personal business and to generate a little income."

Ealum spoke optimistically about the strenghtening of the Republican Party in Southwest Georgia and of Saxby Chambliss' chances in November.

"It's going to be a tough race, but I think he's got a great chance of winning. I'm excited about Saxby's race. With Sonny (Perdue), it's going to be a little tougher. You've got to win Southwest Georgia. He's got to get down here and get involved," he said.

Rynders said the district was clearly drawn by the Democrats to be a Republican seat, but Democrat nominee Craig Mathis begs to differ.

District 137 does not belong to one political party, Mathis said, it belongs to the people.

"They are the ones who decide who they are going to vote for, not Atlanta," he said.

Mathis decried Rynders style of campaigning.

"I just want the people to hear a campaign based on issues and not on the mudslinging that went on in the previous race. It was something that turned my stomach and made me sick that that's what politics is now coming to," he said.

"I hope that Ed Rynders can talk about issues and not talk about whether somebody lives in a mobile home or whether they pay taxes or anything like that," he said. "I'd like to see a campaign run on the issues -- a campaign about who can get the most done for House District 137, when the Democrats are going to control the General Assembly. They're control the House and control the Senate. I think there's no question about that. The voters of House District 137 are going to be pragmatic. They're going to vote for the person who they feel can do the best job and get the most done."

Mathis bets Rynders' ways will turn off a lot of voters.

"That ought to send a message to Mr. Rynders that the negative campaigning doesn't work. It's got him this far, but it's not going to get him to Atlanta," he said, pointing to the poor turnout for the runoff.

In other state runoffs, Mike Beatty won Colquitt County 456 over Steve Stancil's 340 for the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor. Charles Bailey Sr. took the county 640 votes to 163 votes for Vernadette Ramirez Broyles in the secretary of state runoff.

For the Democratic state school superintendent nominee, Barbara Christmas won over Joe Martin 412 votes to 128.

Colquitt County Superintendent of Elections Aileen Dunn said only 9.5 percent of registered voters turned out for the runoffs compared to 37.5 percent at the primaries.



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