Election gives GOP new hope



CONYERS — For Rockdale County Republicans, Tuesday's general election showed they had strong, local candidates and an ability to mobilize volunteers as needed during the 2010 campaign.

The local GOP's only win in the county was its biggest in the re-election of Rockdale County Commissioner JaNice Van Ness, who carried 53 percent of the vote.

The fact that a Republican incumbent won while the county as a whole went for all seven Democratic state office candidates was an impressive feat, according to Rockdale GOP Chairwoman Kellie Pharr. She added that Van Ness' win also showed that the Republican message got through to local voters.

"The Rockdale GOP volunteers did an excellent job campaigning for our candidates and conservative values, and we are now looking forward to 2012," Pharr said in an e-mail reply to questions. "We are extremely excited that Commissioner JaNice Van Ness won her bid for re-election and realize that demonstrates that we are a Republican county."

Van Ness won nine of the 18 voting precincts in her victory over Democratic challenger Courtney Dillard. Van Ness carried Barksdale, Bethel, Hightower, Honey Creek, Lorraine, Magnet, Salem, Sheffield and Stanton.

Dillard won Conyers, Fieldstone, Flat Shoals, Milstead, Olde Towne, Rockdale, Smyrna, St. Pius and The Lakes.

Of note, Van Ness' average vote differential in her precinct wins topped what Dillard did in his wins. Van Ness' average vote lead was 434.8 votes per precinct. Dillard averaged 261.5 votes per precinct.

Van Ness also bested her opponent by 500 votes or more in five precincts, compared to just two precincts for Dillard.

Also, Republican Rockdale County District Attorney Richard Read won reelection without any opposition.

Other party officials noted that their legislative candidates were strong in Democratic-leaning districts. Rodney Upton, the Conyers Republican in the Georgia 95th House race lost overall to Democrat and fellow Conyers resident Pam Dickerson. However, he carried the Rockdale precincts 2,592 votes to Dickerson's 2,574 votes.

"We had very well qualified candidates for the state House seats and the Senate seat, and we are anticipating with their emerging new faces in the Republican Party that we will see them as victorious in the future," Pharr said. "We have begun today to organize the efforts that will replace Chairman Oden and Commissioner Nesbitt in 2012."