Special votes in Ga., Wyo., eyed for clues

/ Source: The Associated Press

The race to replace the late Rep. Charlie Norwood, R-Ga., appears headed to a runoff. Former state Sen. Jim Whitehead, a Republican, led the crowded field of 10 candidates in Tuesday's special election. But he was unable to crack the 50 percent mark needed to claim the seat.

With 99 percent of precincts reporting, Whitehead had 44 percent of the vote.

Those in line to challenge him on July 17 are Democrat James Marlow, an Internet businessman from Lincolnton, and Republican Paul Broun, a doctor from Athens. With 99 percent of precincts reporting, Broun led Marlow by just 115 votes.

The race is the first congressional election since Democrats won control of Congress in 2006 and is being watched for clues on how heated issues like Iraq and immigration will play out in next year's national elections.

Norwood, a seven-term Republican, died in February after fighting cancer and lung disease.

The largely rural district, which includes Athens and parts of Augusta, has voted Republican for more than a decade, and political analysts expected that trend to continue.

The Georgia secretary of state's office predicted turnout about 10 percent of the district's 340,562 registered voters. Actual turnout was a little bit higher, with about 16 percent of registered voters casting a ballot.

Wyoming Senate seat to be filled
In Wyoming, the 71-member state Republican Central Committee met to select three nominees to temporarily fill the U.S. Senate seat left vacant by Sen. Craig Thomas's death two weeks ago while fighting leukemia.

Wyoming law allows the party's central committee to select three nominees for the seat. Gov. Dave Freudenthal, a Democrat, must choose a temporary replacement from those nominees.

Selected were Tom Sansonetti, a former chief of staff to Thomas; State Sen. John Barrasso, a surgeon; and former state Treasurer Cynthia Lummis. Sansonetti got the most votes with 58; Barrasso got 56 and Lummis 44.

"One of these three will be the next Wyoming state senator," Wyoming GOP Chairman Fred Parady said.

The governor has five days to make his choice after the nominees are selected.

The new senator from Wyoming will serve through 2008. A special election in November 2008 will determine who completes Thomas' term, which runs through 2012.