Tuesday's Republican Party runoff for Cobb Commission Chairman was expected to be very close.
Incumbent Tim Lee knew were precarious because of his support for a property tax increase in 2011 and the TSPLOST referendum that went down in flames last month.
While awaiting the returns of his runoff battle with Bill Byrne, Lee anxiously noted that Eldrin Bell in Clayton County and B.J. Mathis in Henry County, two of his counterparts in metro Atlanta, went down to defeat, in large part because of anti-TSPLOST sentiment.
And after falling behind in early returns, Lee's once-relaxed demeanor became more focused. At one point he privately huddled with his wife Annette, as they embraced and spoke intently in a ballroom at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Kennesaw.
But as the election-day voting tally rolled in, Lee overcame Byrne, and gradually added to his slim margins to win by 1,295 votes.
The final, unofficial results show that Lee collected 14,309 votes, or 52.3 percent, to 13,014 votes for Byrne, or 47.6 percent.
Lee was elected in 2010 to fill the unexpired term of Sam Olens, now the Georgia Attorney General. Since there is no Democratic candidate on the Nov. 6 ballot, Lee will begin serving a full four-year term in January.
Although he had not heard from Byrne late Tuesday, Lee offered victory remarks to campaign supporters. After profusely thanking his wife, his religious faith, campaign supporters and staff, Lee finally breathed a sigh of relief.
"We're calling it a win, although Mr. Byrne hasn't called, not that I would expect him to," Lee said. "But we're going to home and get some rest and start working together tomorrow to move Cobb forward."
Lee also thanked another key supporter, Kennesaw Mayor Mark Mathews, with whom he served on the Atlanta Regional Roundtable that selected the projects for inclusion in the unpopular T-SPLOST referendum.
"It was a real good possibility that we could have gotten caught up in that sweep," Lee said of the other incumbents who lost Tuesday. "I think the reason we won tonight is that we offered a clear plan for the future and a great team of supporters to get out the vote."
Byrne, the Cobb Commission Chairman from 1992-2002, forced Lee into a runoff in a four-candidate primary on July 31 by hitting the incumbent .
In a heated runoff campaign, Byrne proposed plan but that was largely panned. Lee reminded voters of Byrne's past tenure on the commission, including his vote 19 years ago.
While Byrne won the majority of advance and absentee ballots, Lee won the turnout battle on Tuesday, as he prevailed by more than 2,100 election-day votes.
"I wish him well and hopes he brings together the board and takes them in a positive way as we work our way out of this recession," Byrne told The Marietta Daily Journal late Tuesday. He also told the newspaper he planned to stay politically active in Cobb Republican circles.
Lee said his immediate objectives are to address economic development, jobs, transportation and county budget matters.
Thompson routed in South Cobb
One Cobb incumbent will not be returning to the County Commission. Woody Thompson was defeated soundly by Austell civic activist Lisa Cupid in a Democratic runoff. There is no Republican candidate in Novemer.
Cupid, 35, a political newcomer and a Georgia State University graduate student, won with 3,065 votes, or 75 percent of the vote. Thompson, 65, who has served on the commission in two different tenures as a Republican and as a Democrat, had only 988 votes, or 25 percent.
has more on the District 4 Commission race.
Women win court races
Marsha Lake defeated Larry Burke in a non-partisan runoff for Judge of the Cobb State Court.
Lake had 19,206 votes, or 61 percent, to 12,327 votes, or 39 percent, for Burke. She succeeds Rolland Castellanos, who unsuccessfully ran for Cobb Superior Court Judge.
Rebecca Keaton won the Republican runoff for Cobb Superior Court Clerk, easily downing John Skelton.
Keaton, who succeeds the retiring Jay Stephenson, had 16,347 votes, or 62 percent, to Skelton's 10,007 votes, or 38 percent.
She has no Democratic opponent in November.
School board, legislative runoffs settled
Brad Wheeler has won the right to face Post 7 Democratic incumbent Alison Bartlett for a seat on the Cobb Board of Education in November.
Wheeler, a retired Cobb schools administrator, won the Republican runoff Tuesday by capturing 2,268 votes, or 54 percent, to 1,903 votes, or 46 percent, for Larry Darnell. The district includes portions of West Cobb.
In the State House District 41 Democratic runoff, Michael Smith won with 577 votes, or 61 percent, to 364 votes, or 39 percent, for Diana Eckles.
He will face Republican Phil Daniell in November for the right to represent a district that covers an area between Smyrna and Marietta.