Tea Party-Backed Candidate Wins U.S. House Seat in Georgia

Nearly complete returns from the busiest day on the 2010 primary calendar indicates that Republican Tom Graves, a former state representative running with the support of the Atlanta Tea Party, won a special election runoff for the U.S. House seat of longtime Rep. Nathan Deal, who resigned from his ninth congressional district seat in March to seek the Republican nomination for governor.

Graves, a real estate developer, has 22,684 votes, or 56.5 percent of the vote with 99 percent of the precincts reporting in the north Georgia district. Republican Lee Hawkins, a former state senator and dentist whose conservative platform nearly mirrored that of his opponent, was trailing with 17,499 votes, or 43.5 percent.

Graves, who enjoyed the backing of the Atlanta Tea Party Patriots and Dick Armey’s FreedomWorks, also received substantial financial backing from the conservative Club for Growth in the hotly-contested runoff election.

Graves, 40, will serve the remaining six months of Rep. Nathan Deal’s unexpired term.

He will face a half-dozen opponents, including Hawkins, in the state’s regularly scheduled Republican primary on July 20 for a full two-year term in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Eugene Moon, who had been trying to become the first person in the Peach State to successfully petition his way onto the November ballot as an independent candidate for Congress since 1964, supported Graves in the runoff.  A self-described conservative independent, Moon received 1,125 votes in the May 11 special election.

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