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Some local races getting attention
Turnout still expected to be light in Tuesday's runoff
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What if you held a runoff and nobody showed up?

In Dawson County, there is no Republican runoff and only the Democratic U.S. Senate race on that party’s ballot.

As of late Friday afternoon, only 25 people had cast ballots in the weeklong early voting period.

Just to the south in Forsyth County, a hotly contested county commission race and a runoff for clerk of court brought 2,500 voters out this week, with predictions of an overall 7 percent turnout, about half of the number voting three weeks ago.

In Hall County, Republican voters will decide only the race for clerk of court between newcomers Jennifer Gibbs and Charles Baker.

Gibbs went negative in a campaign mailout last week, but not against Baker. She accused current clerk Dwight Wood of mismanagement of the office. Wood refuted the allegations in a release to The Times.

Wood did not seek re-election after media accounts revealed he used a loophole in state law to retain thousands of dollars in U.S. passport fees.

Both Gibbs and Baker have said they would end the practice.

In Habersham County, where an incumbent sheriff and a two-term state senator are fighting for their political lives, 73 percent of the number who took advantage of early voting three weeks ago came back for round two this week.

Habersham County Sheriff DeRay Fincher was the second-place finisher on July 15 against challenger Joey Terrell.

But the race that has gotten the most attention is the battle between incumbent state Sen. Nancy Schaefer, R-Turnerville, and Habersham County Commission Chairman Jim Butterworth for the Senate seat Schaefer has held for two terms.

The rather tame primary fight has erupted into a nasty runoff battle between 74-year-old Schaefer and 42-year-old Butterworth.

On Friday, the National Rifle Association disputed a claim made in a Schaefer mailout that she had been endorsed by the organization. A spokesman said the organization did not make an endorsement in the race.

Earlier, in a broadcast interview, Gov. Sonny Perdue said he had not endorsed a candidate in the race. Schaefer sent a mailout with a photograph of herself and Perdue with words, reportedly from the governor, heaping praise on the senator.

Schaefer’s bid for a third term came after a last-minute reversal of an earlier decision to run for the 10th District seat in the U.S. House. She cited the illness of her husband as reason for the change of heart.

Butterworth has said that Schaefer encouraged him to run as she announced her Congressional bid, but called and asked him to reconsider when she wanted back into the race. Schaefer denies the conversation.

In Georgia, a candidate must get 50 percent, plus one vote, in order to win in a primary. Otherwise, a multiple candidate race is thrown into a two-person runoff.

Statewide, Democrats are deciding who will face incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss in November. The race is between DeKalb County CEO Vernon Jones and former state Rep. Jim Martin of Atlanta, who also served as commissioner of Human Resources. Two years ago, Martin was the Democratic nominee against Casey Cagle, a Chestnut Mountain Republican who won the race for lieutenant governor by a strong margin.

Jones, also a former state representative, has repeatedly tried to emphasize his ties to Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama and criticized Martin for his support of U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton. Martin has countered with public statements by Jones saying he voted twice for President Bush.

Either candidate faces a formidable foe in Chambliss, who has already raised $4 million for his fall campaign.

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