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Georgia: Graves Faces Runoff Rematch With Hawkins

Rep. Tom Graves is headed to an August runoff after just barely failing to top 50 percent of the vote in a crowded GOP primary Tuesday.

Graves will again face former state Sen. Lee Hawkins, whom he defeated in a June 8 special election runoff. The Congressman is heavily favored to win next month’s contest.

Two Democratic incumbents avoided being forced into a second round of balloting by garnering a majority of the vote on Tuesday: John Barrow and Hank Johnson.

Barrow easily beat back a primary challenge from former state Sen. Regina Thomas, whom he defeated by more than 50 points in the 2008 primary.

Johnson managed an outright victory over two well-known primary opponents. Neither Johnson nor Barrow is considered a GOP target for defeat in November.

In the 7th district, where GOP Rep. John Linder is retiring, Rob Woodall and Jody Hice are headed to the Aug. 10 runoff. State Rep. Clay Cox, by far the best-known and best-funded candidate, finished a disappointing third behind Woodall, Linder’s former chief of staff who had the outgoing Congressman’s backing, and Hice, a Baptist minister and radio talk-show host.

The winner of the runoff is all but guaranteed to be the next Member of Congress from the heavily Republican suburban Atlanta district.

Only two districts in the Peach State have the potential to see competitive races in November. Republicans have hopes of targeting Reps. Jim Marshall and Sanford Bishop, and party strategists are excited about their recruits in both races.

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