Elections officials in Cherokee, Forsyth and Fulton counties said the recount confirmed Biello bested Jeff Duncan by two votes in the race to succeed the late state Rep. Calvin Hill (R-Canton) on Jan. 7.
Duncan, a Ball Ground businessman, called for the recount after Election Day results put him just .08 percent behind Biello, a Cherokee County high school teacher. But after the recount, Duncan said he can accept coming out on the losing end of the “statistical tie” for second place in the four-candidate race.
“I wasn’t surprised. Statistical ties have to be broken one way or another,” he said. “I don’t think that technically you could have a closer race than that. It was a unique election over a unique time, on a unique day.”
The campaign began in November after Hill’s death from leukemia and spanned the holiday season, with Election Day falling last Tuesday when frigid temperatures had officials concerned that voters might skip the polls.
Duncan said he was honored by the support he received and added he hasn’t yet picked a candidate to get behind in the runoff.
“My wife and I are really appreciative of the privilege that we had to run. It doesn’t mean it will be the last time, but as for this election I think the best I can do is commend the two that are left in the runoff,” he said. “I have to make a decision on who I vote for as well, and I find that to be a difficult decision right now, to be very frank.”
With such a tight race, Biello has been candid she didn’t fault Duncan for asking for a recount, although she said she wasn’t surprised by the result.
“But it’s still exciting (and) reaffirming,” she said.
Biello said she remains confident she can build momentum and come out on top Feb. 4.
“We’re feeling really good. We’re re-energized,” she said. “We’ve got a strong team. We’ve got a team of people that are willing to work hard. More so now than before. We are determined.”
Moore, who was first on Election Day with 38 percent of the vote, said the result of the recount doesn’t change much for him.
“It’s kind of what I more or less figured,” said Moore, a Macedonia resident. “I didn’t really expect there to be a change. This doesn’t change anything for me and it doesn’t change how I feel about my chances. I’m definitely confident.”
But whoever wins Feb. 4 to fill the unexpired term of Hill’s seat will have to run again in the May primary. Qualifying for the next District 22 race will begin March 3 for the primary tentatively set for May 20, said Cherokee elections supervisor Janet Munda.
Biello said she’s prepared to quickly start a re-election campaign.
“Hopefully, we’re going to win, and, certainly, I’m going to turn around and qualify in March for the primary,” she said.
Moore said he’s been planning all along to run again in March.
“My financial targets, how I’m campaigning, my volunteers, everything we’ve have been doing has been (assuming that),” he said. “While it’s obviously a long, hard slog … it’s something that I planned for.”
Moore added he had been hoping to avoid a runoff, so a winner could be named Jan. 7 and head into the legislative session this week.
“I hate that we’re going in without representation,” he said. “There’s nothing I can really do. We just have to hope that what’s going on down there is in our interest.”
Whether it’s Moore or Biello running for re-election in March, they could have Duncan to contend with again, as he may decide to run for the seat again.
“I started doing this when most of (the candidates) were 6 and 7 years old. Some of them weren’t born. I don’t plan to go away,” said Duncan, former Cherokee GOP chair. “I’ve never made a habit of living out five months ahead, but I’ve never made a habit of closing doors before they open. At this point, I’m not making any plans one way or another.”