Ware County didn’t beat Lowndes County.
Lowndes County beat Lowndes County.
Actually, James Burchett of Waycross beat Franklin Patten of Lakeland for the House District 176 seat. Burchett will represent District 176, which covers portions of Lowndes, Lanier, Ware and Atkinson counties.
To repeat The Valdosta Daily Times article on the special runoff election Tuesday, there are 30,340 registered voters in District 176. Less than 15 percent of voters participated in the runoff election, according to the Secretary of State office.
Burchett garnered the most votes Tuesday with 59 percent or 2,555 votes. Patten received 41 percent of the vote or 1,751 votes.
The race was overwhelmingly determined by Ware County’s turnout. Burchett received 1,575 votes from his home county, which is more than Patten got from every county in the special election. Patten only received 4 percent of the Ware County vote or 73 votes.
In the county-by-county breakdown, Patten took Lowndes County and Lanier County with 67 percent and 77 percent, respectively. However, the turnout was lackluster with only 1,477 combined votes going to Patten.
The race could have been determined by Lowndes County but that wasn’t the case.
More than twice as many Ware County voters participated in the election than Lowndes County voters.
Less than 8 percent of Lowndes County registered voters voted compared to nearly 18 percent of Ware County registered voters who showed up at the polls.
So, a House of Representative seat that has been held by a Lanier County resident for years, a seat that has long been seen as a strong representative for a portion of Lowndes County, is now held by a Waycross resident. Ware County arguably has gained more influence.
While we are sure Burchett will represent all of District 176 equitably, the switch changes the structure and power dynamic of the long-held legislative coalition known as the South Georgia delegation.
If Lowndes County residents feel bereft about this loss, we have only ourselves to blame.