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Democrats' bus tour stops in Gainesville
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Hall County Commissioner-elect Ashley Bell, left, introduces Jim Martin, a Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, to a crowd Thursday afternoon at the Hall County Democratic Headquarters. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

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Jim Martin and Saxby Chambliss agree on one thing: They both need their supporters to go to the polls.

Martin, an Atlanta Democrat, is challenging Chambliss for his seat in the U.S. Senate.

Recent polls have shown the race tightening up, with the possibility of a runoff because of a Georgia law requiring the winner to get at least 50 percent of the vote. Libertarian Allen Buckley has been polling 3 to 5 percent in the race.

Like Chambliss, Martin is touring the state by bus and brought his campaign to Gainesville for a rally at Democratic headquarters on Athens Street.

"I’m not ‘Landslide Jim,’" Martin said standing on the front porch of the building. "I need you to call a few more people for me."

Martin said the numbers in the race appear close.

"Our internal polls show that we are tied," Martin said. "We know that there is deviation among the polls, but we believe that we’re on the way up, and Saxby is on the way down."

Martin would like to win outright on Tuesday.

"There’s always a chance for a runoff with three people in the race," he said. "But we believe our message is resonating with voters, and on Tuesday, we’re going to win this thing."

Martin and Buckley both were unsuccessful candidates for lieutenant governor in 2006.

Chambliss, who is completing his first term in the Senate, has been heavily favored in the race. In a visit to Gainesville this week, he conceded that there has been some anti-incumbent sentiment among the state’s voters in the aftermath of the financial bailout approved by Congress.

Also on the bus tour with Martin was Democratic Public Service Commission candidate Jim Powell, who received a favorable ruling by the Georgia Supreme Court in a challenge to his candidacy.

The court ruled Thursday that Powell’s name can remain on the ballot Tuesday in a unanimous decision that concluded Georgia elections officials "committed an error of law" by disqualifying him.

Powell argued Republican Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel was playing "dirty politics at its worst" when she disqualified him from his bid for a Public Service Commission seat. He was blocked days before the July primary on grounds that he didn’t meet his district’s residency requirements.

Powell owns a home in Towns County, which is in the district, but Handel said she disqualified him after discovering he received a homestead exemption and mail at a Cobb County residence outside the district.

"It’s been a distraction," Powell said during the stop in Gainesville. "I’ve been so focused on Nov. 4, and I just want to reach as many voters as I can.

Powell is seeking an open seat against Republican Lauren "Bubba" McDonald, a former commissioner who lives in Clarkesville.

The commission, which regulates Georgia utilities, requires a statewide election for a seat that represents North Georgia.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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