Both Bill Hembree of Winston and Mike Dugan of Carrollton plan to be on the campaign trail up until the voting. The winner of the runoff will have one more contest, a Jan. 8 special election with Libertarian candidate James Camp of Temple. The seat became vacant when Bill Hamrick resigned in September to accept a Superior Court judgeship.
“I’m working hard every day, trying to meet people where they’re gathered,” Hembree said Wednesday. “I attended the Carroll EMC breakfast today, then stood at the door as people left, reminding them that there’s an election next Tuesday. Later, I went out into the business community, to say hello to people. Everybody I see, I remind them of the election.”
Hembree led the general election by a sizable margin 48 percent to Dugan’s 24 percent, but failed to get reach the required 50 percent to win outright in the four-candidate field.
But Dugan said it’s is a new race, and that he has much better name recognition now than when he began his campaign in September.
“I’m extremely optimistic about our chances,” Dugan said. “I’ve gone from 4 percent name recognition to nearly 25 percent of the vote. Everyday, I’m going out and meeting people. That’s the way a campaign should be run, going out and meeting the people you’ll represent.”
On the second day of advance voting Wednesday, the Carroll County elections office looked nothing like it did a month ago when voters were standing in long lines, waiting to cast early ballots for the Nov. 6 election.
“There’s no waiting at all today,” said county Elections Supervisor Becky Deese. “People are coming in, one at a time. There’s no lines.”
By the end of the day, 160 people had voted and 26 new absentee ballots had come in. The two-day total for in-office advance voters was 339, and the absentee total was 162.
Deese said 179 voters cast ballots on Tuesday, the first day of advance voting in the runoff, while 136 absentee ballots were received.
“Carroll County voters can really make a difference in this runoff since our county has more voters in District 30 than Douglas and Paulding counties combined,” Deese said. She said Carroll County has 52,412 eligible voters in District 30.
Douglas has 20,803 eligible voters in the district, while Paulding has 21,155.
Advance voting will continue from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. today and Friday.
Hembree, 46, a Douglas County insurance agent, has emphasized his 18 years of experience in the state House of Representatives and his conservative background.
Dugan, 49, a Carrollton building contractor, is making his first run for public office. He is talking about his military and business experience and his pledge of term limits and regular town hall meetings.
Fairfield, Hulett, Lowell and Whitesburg precincts are not part of Senate District 30, so their voters cannot participate in the runoff or the Jan. 8 special election.
Voters who were registered by Oct. 9 can vote in the runoff, regardless of whether they voted in the Nov. 6 election. However, potential voters who want to cast a ballot in the Jan. 8 election have through Dec. 10 to register for it.