MILTON, Ga. — Around 200 Brandon Beach supporters gathered Tuesday, Jan. 8, at Milton’s Irish pub in Crabapple, the Olde Blind Dog, to listen to the returns for his second state Senate bid in two months and third in three years. This time they were not disappointed as Beach won with nearly 58 percent of the vote in the special election to fill the District 21 seat after incumbent Chip Rogers resigned.
The turnout was surprisingly good in Cherokee County which makes up the larger portion of District 21. All of Cherokee was eligible to vote in the special election and 10 percent of registered voters did.
North Fulton, where only Milton and large swath of Alpharetta were eligible to vote, saw less than 5 percent cast ballots.
Around 8:45 p.m., Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle texted Beach at the Old Blind Dog to say, “Congratulations. Now come to the Capitol Monday morning ready for work.”
Beach said he did not campaign differently this time. His message has always been the same, he said.
“We need to get Georgians back to work and reduce that 9 percent unemployment deficit. That means jobs, jobs, jobs – and all that goes with that,” Beach said.
He pointed to the Opportunity Zones program which gives generous tax breaks to companies that relocate or add new employees in designated areas marked for improvement.
“Roswell has added about 1,300 jobs using incentives like that,” he said. “We don’t want to give the farm away. But we have to be competitive to places like Texas where they have no state income tax and huge incentives of their own.”
It also means lowering taxes and being competitive in the educational field with Georgia’s schools improving, adding more technical colleges and technical training, he said.
“But it all centers around on jobs,” Beach said.
The special election came about soon after incumbent Sen. Chip Rogers, who was also Senate majority leader abruptly resigned just days after he defeated Beach for the District 21 seat. Although Rogers said he suddenly wanted to “spend more time with his family,” it directly followed his being stripped of his leadership post by fellow Republican senators.
The worst crime a Georgia politician can commit is to be irrelevant among his peers in the General Assembly. And with Rogers’ resignation came Beach’s chance to roll the dice again.
His opponent this time was Holly Springs businessman and state Rep. Sean Jerguson. But he had to resign the House seat he just won in an unopposed re-election in order to run for the Senate seat. Jerguson received 20,000 votes in November, but he had no presidential election to bring his constituents back to the polls.
With the usual voter indifference to such special elections, the race became about who could muster their electorate back out. Clearly it was Beach.