After serving 12 years in the state Legislature, Sen. Joey Brush will not be returning to Atlanta next year.
Jim Whitehead (center), surrounded by his wife, Peggy (from left); sons Bo and Jim Jr.; and former U.S. Rep. Doug Barnard Jr., announces to his audience that state Sen. Joey Brush had called him to concede the election.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
The incumbent lost his seat Tuesday at the end of a contentious campaign with former Columbia County Commission Chairman Jim Whitehead.
With 88 percent of precincts reporting in the state's 24th Senate District, which now covers seven counties including Columbia and McDuffie, Mr. Whitehead nabbed 13,927 votes, or 58 percent, to defeat Mr. Brush, R-Appling.
Mr. Whitehead, 62, will face Democratic candidate and Augusta attorney Chuck Pardue in November.
"We're very proud; we've had such great friends and supporters," said Mr. Whitehead, who was fielding congratulatory calls from other legislators and from Gov. Sonny Perdue on Tuesday night.
"There definitely was some need for change," he said about voter response. "I probably hit it at the right time."
Mr. Whitehead said he would take a break from campaigning until Labor Day and then get back out into the district to try and pick up Mr. Brush's votes in addition to Democratic votes before the general election.
He credited a strong campaign team for his win Tuesday night.
"I have said for years I've never done anything in my life without other people," Mr. Whitehead said.
Mr. Brush, 48, served two terms in the state House before joining the state Senate in 1992, where he served as chairman of the Senate Education Committee.
"I'm disappointed of course, but it's not the end of the world, it's just an election," Mr. Brush said.
Mr. Brush watches the election returns with his pastor, Jack Custer, moments before calling Mr. Whitehead and conceding the race.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
Despite his long career in the Legislature, Mr. Brush said he was unsure Tuesday night whether he would make another political bid in the future.
"I don't know right now," he said. "I'm looking forward to having a little quieter life."
Though Mr. Whitehead served for eight years on the Columbia County Commission, this is his first foray into state politics.
Reach Vicky Eckenrode at 868-1222, ext. 115, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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