Voters Rally, Hagan Wins!
Vidalia businesswoman Leesa Hagan will be representing District 156 in the Georgia House of Representatives when it reconvenes this Fall. She defeated car dealer Wally Sapp of Baxley in the July 13 runoff that garnered a better turnout than the June 15 election. In unofficial tallies posted online by the Secretary of State’s office on July 16, Hagan acquired 51% of the total (3,131 votes) District wide, while Sapp amassed 48% with 2,929 across the District.
Republicans Hagan and Sapp came within 1 percentage point of each other in the June 15 election, but neither received a majority of the nearly 5,000 votes cast to avoid a runoff. Hagan received about 43% of the vote, while Sapp pulled in about 42%. The lone Democrat in the race, Wright Gres of Appling County, finished third in the contest with nearly 15% of the vote.
The battle between the candidates came down to the turnouts in their home counties. Toombs County, the most populous county in the District, had a poor showing in the election, but voters rallied for continued from page
the runoff. In her home county of Toombs, Hagan won 85.70% of the total with 2,170 votes cast while Sapp earned 362 votes for 14.30% of the total.
In Jeff Davis County, Hagan won 19.78% of the vote with 72 votes and Sapp won 80.22% of the total with 292 votes cast. In Montgomery County, Hagan won 75.26% of the total with 727 votes and Sapp won 24.7% of the total with 239 votes. In Appling County, the second most populous county in the District, Sapp claimed massive support from his home base with 2,033 votes cast for 92.62% of the total. In Appling County, Hagan earned 162 votes for 7.38% of the total.
A total of 6,057 votes were cast District wide on July 13, while a total of 4,801 were cast District wide on June 15. In the June 15 election Hagan barely edged past Sapp with 2,068 votes in the District wide voting to Sapp’s 2,031 votes. The razor-thin margin brought out local leaders to urge citizens to support Hagan.
Hagan assumes the House seat left vacant when Greg Morris resigned from office earlier this year. Morris, a Vidalia Republican, was elected to the State Transportation Board.
One of the issues confronting Hagan as she takes her new seat will be this year’s redistricting proceedings and next year’s legislative session before facing the voters again — possibly with dramatically changed boundaries. Currently, House District 156 includes Montgomery and Toombs counties and portions of Appling and Jeff Davis counties.
Hagan, an online consulting firm owner, said of her victory, “A lot of people got involved in the runoff. We had volunteers making phone calls and I think that made a difference.” She added, “We knew going in that because of it being a mid-term election and because it was summer, the turnout would probably be low. In the runoff, more people voted across the District, but I still feel the numbers were low. We want to work on getting more people involved in the voting process.”
Hagan said her first priority is learning the ropes. As of Monday morning, she was still awaiting the official certification of the election results by the Georgia Secretary of State’s office before she could plan a swearing in ceremony and be named to House committees. The certification is expected early this week. Another priority will be the 2022 election cycle when she will be running again for the House seat she just won.