The special election will now have a special election runoff.
Calhoun attorney Jesse Vaughn had the most votes in Tuesday's special election for state House of Representatives District 5, but since he did not receive more than 50 percent of the vote, he and businessman Matt Barton, who came in second, face off in a runoff on Tuesday, Feb. 5.
"I'm very pleased, very excited, honored and humbled to have come out on top tonight," Vaughn said. "We hope to keep that momentum going and keep pushing towards the runoff."
The death of John Meadows, a Republican who represented District 5 for 14 years, on Nov. 13, 2018, made the special election necessary. District 5 covers one precinct in Murray County and central and western Gordon County.
Vaughn, a Republican and an attorney with Vaughn & Clements P.C., had the most votes in the six-man race with 1,187 votes (33.72 percent). Barton, a Republican and former member of the Calhoun City Council and the Calhoun Board of Education, came in second with 815 votes (23.15 percent).
On Tuesday, Barton thanked those who came out to vote for him.
"I've really got to meet a lot of people I didn't know," he said. "I enjoyed that, and I look forward to talking to and meeting more people."
Republican Scott Tidwell, a pastor and insurance agent, came in third with 739 votes (20.99 percent).
"I'll be honest, I'm disappointed with the results," said Tidwell, who lost to state Sen. Chuck Payne, R-Dalton, in a close race in the Republican primary for Senate District 54 in 2018. "But I'm encouraged by the people who supported me. I really appreciate the people who came out to vote. I'm not going to hang it up. I might try again later."
Republican Larry Massey Jr., a retired aviator who served in the U.S. Marine Corps, came in fourth with 524 votes (14.89 percent).
Democrat Brian Rosser, a musician from Calhoun, finished fifth with 163 votes (4.63 percent). Republican Steve Cochran came in sixth with 92 votes (2.61 percent).
Overall, 3,520 people voted, or 12.26 percent of registered voters in the district.
In Murray County, 150 people voted or 5.47 percent of registered voters.
Barton and Vaughn said they will move immediately into campaigning for the runoff.
"I'm very pleased with what we have been doing," said Vaughn. "But with a runoff, getting out the vote is even more crucial. We've got to make sure our people are aware of the runoff and get back to the polls."
Barton agreed that turnout will be key in the runoff.
"We've got to step back and take a look at our campaign and see what worked and see where we might make some improvements," he said.
Tidwell said he plans to speak to Barton and see if he might endorse him.
"During the campaign, I was more focused on getting my message out," he said. "I want to talk to him about a number of different issues and see if I can endorse him."
Tidwell said he could not see himself endorsing Vaughn, a former Democrat.
Massey did not immediately return a telephone message Tuesday night. Cochran and Rosser could not be contacted.