For the second time in less than a year, U.S. Rep. Paul Broun has befuddled the Georgia Republican establishment with a commanding victory over a candidate with strong backing from the state Capitol.
Broun, incumbent from Georgia's 10th District, won a special election runoff last July to claim the seat left vacant by the death of U.S. Rep. Charlie Norwood, R-Augusta.
Broun's landslide defeat Tuesday of Barry Fleming, an attorney and high-ranking state legislator, comes nearly a year to the day after he eked out victory in a runoff against a state senator considered to be the GOP front-runner.
In what became a mudslinging affair, Fleming questioned Broun's past financial problems, while Broun questioned the validity of Fleming's Christian faith.
In the end, it was Broun, 63, the son of a late state senator of the same name, who won the right to face Democrat Bobby Saxon of Jackson County in the Nov. 4 general election.
Broun captured some of his largest victories in the area, carrying Banks, Habersham and Jackson counties by larger margins than he did a year ago. In Habersham, Broun received 4,487 votes to Fleming's 1,271.
The surprise of the night was the sizable margin that Broun racked up in Fleming's home area near Augusta.
In races for the Georgia General Assembly, some contests were decided Tuesday night, while one must await the outcome of an Aug. 5 runoff.
In House District 10, Rick Austin, 42, a Piedmont College biology professor, was elected to succeed State Rep. Ben Bridges, R-Cleveland. Austin defeated former Baldwin Mayor Mark Reed by a vote of 5,138 to 2,472 with 95 percent of the votes reported in White and Habersham counties.
Habersham County Commission Chairman Jim Butterworth will be in a runoff with state Sen. Nancy Schaefer, R-Turnerville, for the 50th District Senate seat. Schaefer, who left and then re-entered the race, was second and former Cornelia councilman Terry Rogers third. Butterworth received 40 percent of the votes to Schaefer's 37 percent.
State Rep. Amos Amerson, R-Dahlonega, fended off a challenge from Lumpkin County Commission Chairman Steve Gooch. Amerson defeated Gooch in Lumpkin, Dawson and Forsyth counties, receiving 63 percent of the vote.
The race was seen as a showdown between Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and state House Speaker Glenn Richardson. Cagle supported Gooch while Richardson supported Amerson, a committee chairman in the House.