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Broun is election winner, Whitehead drops plans to appeal

Dr. Paul Broun is now Rep. Paul Broun.

The Athens physician was certified as the winner of the 10th Congressional District runoff earlier this week by the Georgia secretary of state's office. A mere 394 votes separated Rep. Broun from former State Sen. Jim Whitehead.

Mr. Broun won the runoff with 50.4 percent of the vote, according to the certified results: 23,529 to 23,135.

Initially, Mr. Whitehead said a recount was likely in the cards.

"A counting error in any one or more of our precincts could be the determining factor when the margin is this close, and we owe it to our voters to be absolutely certain that the final verdict is the one expressed by the majority," Mr. Whitehead said. "We need to make sure there were indeed no errors before declaring a winner."

But Mr. Whitehead changed his mind as the week wore on. In a news release, Mr. Whitehead said that if the recount could be done quickly, it would be worth it, but to take a chance on dragging the election out another week is unjustifiable.

"For the good of the people of this district I will let the results stand and allow us to regain our vote in the House immediately," he said in the release.

The district has been without representation in Congress since the death of Charlie Norwood in February. Mr. Broun said Monday he planned to take the oath of office in Washington, D.C., this week.

Mr. Broun's victory was as close as it was unexpected. Mr. Whitehead is a former state senator and Columbia County commissioner who held a 3-1 advantage over his opponent in the Augusta area. He also was a close ally of Rep. Norwood, and inherited several of the late congressman's staff.

Mr. Broun barely edged out Democrat James Marlow to finish second in the June 19 special election to move on to the runoff with Mr. Whitehead, and garnered just 21 percent of the vote June 19, compared to Mr. Whitehead's 44 percent.

But during the runoff, voters outside Mr. Whitehead's former district showed equally strong support for Mr. Broun.

Mr. Broun won 13 of the district's 21 counties, and picked up almost 90 percent of the vote in Clarke County and better than 85 percent of the vote in Oconee County. Meanwhile, Mr. Whitehead was the overwhelming choice of McDuffie County voters.

Web posted on Thursday, July 26, 2007

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