Cherokee County high school teacher Meagan Biello edged Ball Ground businessman Jeff Duncan out by just two votes to get the other spot on the runoff ballot next month, according to unofficial results Tuesday evening.
Moore led the field with about 924 votes, or about 38 percent of the 2,433 votes cast for the seat covering parts of Cherokee, Forsyth and Fulton counties. Biello got 576 votes, or about 24 percent, to Duncan’s 574 votes. Canton-based attorney Nate Cochran trailed the field with 359, or about 15 percent of the vote, unofficial results showed.
The candidates were vying in the special election to replace the late state Rep. Calvin Hill, who died from leukemia in late October.
Because Duncan missed the runoff by less than 1 percent of the vote, he is within his rights to ask for a recount within two business days of when the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office certifies the results of the election, said Janet Munda, Cherokee elections supervisor. Munda said she estimated the results would be certified by Monday.
Duncan said in a statement Tuesday night he would make a decision in the next few days on how to move forward.
“I am going to spend tonight with my family in prayer and reflection to determine what my next step will be in this process in the coming days,” Duncan said in the statement.
After the results came in Tuesday evening, Moore, the clear leader all night, said he felt good about his chances in the runoff.
“I think I have a great chance,” said Moore, who says he’s planning to open a small business. He said he would be going into the runoff with a lot of momentum.
Moore, who also led Cherokee with 744 votes, or about 38 percent, said his message of “freedom and liberty” has apparently gotten out to the voters, and he plans to go into the runoff with those principles.
To take home the seat Feb. 4, he’ll have Ball Ground resident Biello to contend with.
Biello, who came in second in Cherokee with 545 votes, or about 26 percent of the vote, said she planned to campaign hard before the runoff.
“I feel great; I’m reinvigorated,” Biello said Tuesday night. “I’m excited and I’m looking forward to the runoff.”
Biello said the support from her former students, colleagues and other voters meant the world to her.
“The amount of support they’ve given has been overwhelming and humbling,” she said.
Should Duncan ask for a recount, Biello said she was confident the results would tip in her favor again.
“If he does (ask for a recount), we’ll go with it,” she said.
Duncan also said he appreciated his support.
“This campaign has truly been humbling with the outpouring of prayers and support I have received through the process. I am grateful for the new friends I have made across our community and thankful for those who have worked so hard to support my campaign,” Duncan said
In Cherokee County, 2,098 voters turned out Tuesday, which counted as about 8.74 percent of the county’s 24,000 registered voters in District 22.
Munda said the turnout was encouraging.
“I’m very pleasantly surprised,” she said Tuesday night. “I think it was a good turnout, especially for the weather and just one race in the county.”