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August 05, 2008

It's Chambliss versus Martin

The Democratic establishment got its preferred nominee against Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) tonight.

Former state Rep. Jim Martin handily defeated DeKalb County CEO Vernon Jones in a Democratic primary runoff tonight, 59 to 41 percent, with 92 percent of precincts reporting.  Jones conceded the race to Martin, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

It was a resounding win for Martin. He even carried Jones’ home county of DeKalb, a majority African-American county in the Atlanta suburbs. Jones, who is black, won his home county by 10 points in the first round of balloting.

Martin trailed Jones in the five-way Democratic primary last month, 40 to 34 percent, but appears to have won the support of the vast majority of voters who didn’t support Jones. Two of Martin’s opponents endorsed him after the primary.

Washington Democrats viewed Martin as the only Democrat with a chance to unseat Chambliss. Before the primary, he received contributions from the political action committees of DSCC Chairman Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.).

"Georgians chose an impressive candidate today who has the experience and vision to change the direction of our nation," said Schumer in a statement. "As a public servant under both a Democratic and a Republican Governor, Jim has a proven record of working across party lines, and he will be an effective and independent voice for Georgia families. This is a winnable race."

But Martin begins the general election campaign against Chambliss as a clear underdog. Chambliss has over $4 million in his campaign account, while Martin banked only $56,000 in mid-July. Martin hasn’t won election to any office other than that of a state representative, and he lost the lieutenant governor’s race in 2006 by a margin of 12 percentage points.

And the Peach State has been inhospitable territory to Democrats lately, giving President Bush 58 percent of the vote in 2004.