ATLANTA – Senate Democratic runoff opponents Cliff Oxford and Denise Majette made a final pitch to voters Monday, working to spur turnout for a Tuesday runoff that will determine which of them makes it to a November race for the seat of retiring Sen. Zell Miller.
Majette, who led an eight-candidate field on July 20 with 41 percent of the vote, spent the last campaign day at MARTA stations, union halls and factories in metro Atlanta counties that formed the core of her base.
Oxford, hoping to split the vote with her in Atlanta and springboard to victory with the votes of rural whites, wrapped up the day in Columbus and Macon after an early morning appearance in Atlanta.
Majette, a one-term congresswoman, would become the first black nominated to the U.S. Senate from Georgia if she wins the race. Oxford, a businessman who has never held office, is white.
The winner faces Republican Rep. Johnny Isakson, who won his July 20 primary outright over two rivals and is viewed as a heavy favorite in a state trending Republican.
About 32 percent of the state’s registered voters cast ballots in the primary election, one of the better turnouts in recent years. But there often is a heavy falloff between the primary and a runoff.
In 1996, the runoff attracted only 17 percent of the state’s registered voters. That dropped to 13 percent in 1998 and to 9.8 percent in 2002, according to the Secretary of State’s office.
Two congressional runoffs also are on the ballot Tuesday.
In a struggle for the seat held by retiring Rep. Mac Collins, state Rep. Lynn Westmoreland faces Dylan Glenn, a young, telegenic candidate bidding to become the first black Republican congressman since Oklahoma’s J.C. Watts retired in 2002.
Hoping to attract more black voters to their party, some of the GOP’s top stars have given Glenn their endorsement, including former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former vice presidential nominee Jack Kemp. Westmoreland has countered with the endorsements of Sen. Saxby Chambliss and an assortment of congressmen.
Collins lost to Isakson in the Republican Senate primary.
The battle for Isakson’s old seat in Congress produced a runoff between two state senators, Robert LaMutt and Tom Price.
A nonpartisan runoff for the Court of Appeals had been on the ballot but any votes cast in that race won’t count. The state Supreme Court stayed the election Monday, acting in a suit brought by a candidate whose first name was wrong on some primary ballots.
Legislative and local runoffs rounded out the ballot.