By Joel Hall and Jason Smith
Incumbent U.S. Rep. David Scott (D-Ga) trounced Republican challenger, Deborah Honeycutt, securing a fourth, two-year term representing the 13th Congressional District.
In both Clayton and Henry counties, Scott beat Honeycutt by double-digit margins, with Clayton generally considered to be more liberal, while Henry is generally considered more conservative.
Scott's defeat of Honeycutt is her second loss to the congressman. He routed her in a 2006 challenge by a margin of 2-to-1.
Statewide, incumbent Georgia Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) appears headed for victory. At midnight, with 95 percent of precincts reporting, Chambliss was ahead by 51.2 percent. His challenger, Democrat Jim Martin, trailed with 45.3 percent of the vote.
Well after midnight, neither the Martin nor the Chambliss campaigns had declared victory.
"I'll stick to my guns that it's going to be a long night," said Kate Hansen, a spokesperson for the Martin campaign. "We have seen that as more numbers come in from more Democratic counties, the numbers have actually shifted. I'm still trying to see where the votes are coming from."
Michelle Grasso, a spokesperson for the Chambliss campaign, answered after midnight on Wednesday, but was not yet ready to declare victory for the Chambliss campaign. Chambliss needs 50 percent of the vote, plus one, to win outright -- without a runoff.
Meanwhile, with 54 of 60 precincts reporting Tuesday in Clayton County, Scott led Honeycutt 75 to 25 percent. In Henry County, Scott was ahead of Honeycutt 60 to 40 percent.
Scott said he will continue to bring federal dollars to his district and work toward ending the foreclosure crisis in Clayton County.
"I love the people of Clayton County and Henry County," said Scott. "That's my base. God bless them. They have stood with me and come through for me. Words cannot express how deeply grateful and touched I am.
"We have put a lot of work in here in my six years in Congress," Scott continued. "We have brought millions of dollars here. We have held health fairs and saved lives. I want to continue the work to stop foreclosures in the area."
Honeycutt, as well as Honeycutt's campaign manager, Michael Murphy, did not respond to calls made on Tuesday night. Jeremy Betts, chairman of the Clayton County Republican Party, said Honeycutt gave Scott a run for his money.
"Even in a year in which it has been difficult for the Republican ... we're in that same ballpark [in regards to 2006 campaign figures]," said Betts. "I think it's a testament to how there are many unhappy voters with Congressman Scott. I think that Dr. Honeycutt was able to strike a chord with some of the voters in the district.
Betts noted that toward the end of Scott's campaign, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) spent money to counter a wave of negative attack ads sent out by Honeycutt's $4.3 million campaign.
"The [DCCC] had to put money into a place that was solidly Democratic," said Betts. "That says something ... it's a vulnerable seat."
Kevin Thomas, chairman of the Clayton County Democratic Party, said that massive organizational efforts helped Scott and other Democrats achieve impressive gains during this election. However, he conceded that Honeycutt gave Scott "a gut-check."
"It all came together," said Thomas. "We have never had this kind of unified effort going forward. We had over 200 volunteers that were on the ground all day at seven satellite locations in Clayton County to squeak out the victory that we had."
However, "I think [Scott] got challenged for the first time," Thomas continued. "I think Deborah Honeycutt has kind of forced Scott to step up his game. He's always been active in our community, but every now and then, a gut check is good for an official who is constantly re-elected."
Henry GOP Chairman Bill Herndon congratulated Honeycutt for the race she ran.
"Dr. Honeycutt ran a quality, balanced campaign," he said. "She has high ideals, and is well thought of. She was a different kind of candidate, and the people of the district are going to experience a great deficit without the good doctor serving them."
Scott believed the people of his district rejected what he said was a "negative approach" by Honeycutt to soil his character.
"The people spoke, they stood up, and they rejected that," said Scott. "I have nothing bad to say about anyone ... we have the future to look forward to."