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Wednesday July 29th, 2015 1:58PM

Hundreds show up for US Senate debate, Handel wins straw poll

By B.J. Williams News Director
GAINESVILLE - More than 500 people showed up at Brenau University Saturday night to hear from the seven candidates vying for the GOP nomination for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Saxby Chambliss.

While there was some wiggle room at Brenau's Pearce Auditorium, organizers said they were pleased with the turnout in the third of seven such debates being hosted around the state prior to the May 20 primary.

Kris Yardley, the chairman of Hall County's GOP, said many of those in attendance came to support a specific candidate. Others were there, however, to make a choice on which candidate they'd vote for.

"As a Republican, you know, we hear a lot of the same things, but you...want to find the guy who's the most effective and has the same priorities - or the top three priorities - that you do," said Yardley. "I think this gave them the opportunity to find that person they were closer to."

At least one attendee said after the debate he's still not sure which candidate will get his vote. E.D. Wiley said he didn't see a clear difference in any of the seven.

"Each person presented himself real well and the pack is going to thin, I'm sure, but right now from what I heard tonight, I don't know that I'm leaning towards any one particular candidate," said Wiley.

The candidates were quizzed by journalists on a variety of topics from the Farm Bill to immigration to health care.

The Hall County GOP conducted a straw poll among attendees and announced the results of the poll just after midnight Sunday. Karen Handel was the winner of the poll in the U.S. Senate race. (See results below.)

POLL RESULTS

US Senate*
129 - Karen Handel
97 - Jack Kingston
76 - Paul Broun
47 - David Perdue
28 - Art Gardner
24 - Derrick Grayson
21 - Phil Gingrey
*We regret that Art Gardner was not included on the ballot. All votes for him were write-in.

Georgia Governor
260 - Nathan Deal
59 - David Pennington
28 - Other/Undecided
16 - John Barge

State School Superintendent
123 - Ashley Bell
89 - Other/Undecided
61 - Nancy Jester
30 - Richard Woods
13 - Fritz Johnson
8 - Kara Willis

Hall Co School Board Post 2*
90 - Mark Pettitt
44 - Traci McBride
27 - Brian Sloan
5 - Other
*We regret that Paul Godfrey was inadvertently left off the ballot.

Hall Co Commission District 1
74 - Ken Cochran
68 - Tony Beatty
26 - Other/Undecided

Hall Co Commission District 3
84 - Scott Gibbs
69 - Other/Undecided


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