Vaughn, Barton to face each other in runoff for Georgia House District 5 seatJanuary 8, 2019
by Davis Lundy | Times Free Press
The election season in Georgia's 5th District will continue into February, with Calhoun attorney Jesse Vaughn and Calhoun businessman Matt Barton advancing Tuesday to a Feb. 5 runoff for the district's seat in the Georgia House of Representatives.
None of the six candidates received the mandated 50 percent in the special election to replace state Rep. John Meadows, R-Calhoun, who died seven days after being re-elected to his eighth term in November. The district consists of most of Gordon County, as well as one precinct in Murray County.
"I think people are going to start thinking they have to go vote every month," said Vaughn of voters who will be casting ballots for the fourth time in the race in February.
Vaughn finished with 33.7 percent and 1,187 of the 3,520 votes cast Tuesday. He had a 10-percent margin over Barton, who edged out pastor Scott Tidwell by 76 votes. Barton finished with 23.1 percent while Tidwell had 21 percent.
"It's going to be another fast four weeks," said Barton.
Former Marine Corps Maj. Larry Massey received 14.8 percent, Brian Rosser, the lone Democrat on the ballot, received 4.6 percent and businessman Steve Cochran received 2.6 percent. Only 12.2 percent of the district's 28,773 registered voters took part in the special election.
The Georgia General Assembly will convene on Monday and run through March 28 and will be the first session for new Republican Gov. Brian Kemp. The District 5 seat will be one of two seats not filled in the 180-member House. House District 176 in southern Georgia will fill a seat vacated by Rep. Jason Shaw, R-Lakeland, on Feb. 12 with a runoff, if necessary, set for March 12.
Vaughn and Barton have known each other since childhood. Both of their mothers taught in the Gordon County school system and Vaughn's mother taught Barton.
"Growing up in the same town most of our lives, we have known each other for a long, long time," said Barton, who said he got a hug from his former teacher after the election.
Barton, 46, is a former member of the Calhoun City Council and the Calhoun Board of Education. He is the owner of a medical transport and delivery service and attended the University of North Georgia and Dalton State College. He said he raised and spent about $6,000 in the special election and said he needed to raise more to be competitive with Vaughn.
Vaughn, 47, who raised more than $46,000 in less than a month for the special election, said he didn't anticipate raising additional money and will focus on grassroots efforts over the next four weeks.
"We will do a variety of things like we have done in the last month," said Vaughn. "We will keep up a strong social media presence, do some mail and keep knocking on doors. Nothing replaces knocking on doors."
Vaughn's supporters include multiple current House members, including Speaker of the House David Ralston, who Vaughn said encouraged him to run. Vaughn said his family has known Ralston for decades and the Meadows campaign contributed to the Vaughn campaign.
"The support I have received here and from around the state has been gratifying," said Vaughn, "and I believe those relationships will be important when serving in Atlanta."
Meadows represented the 5th District for 14 years and was chairman of the powerful House Rules Committee, a position that was filled Tuesday with the appointment of Jay Powell, R-Camilla, by Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge.
"We will both be fighting for the other candidates' votes, that's for sure," said Barton. "There's a lot of work to do. It's going to be another long four weeks."