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Wade Herring has been pining for a showdown with Rep. Buddy Carter since launching his congressional bid last year.
Herring can now focus on unseating the Republican incumbent after winning Tuesday's primary runoff election.
Herring received 62% of the vote to claim the Democratic nomination. He advances to face Carter in the Nov. 8 general election.
Herring's success in the runoff was in sharp contrast to his showing in last month's primary, where he was a distant second to Joyce Griggs, losing all 15 counties by a combined 12 percentage points.
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Key to Herring's turnaround was his performance in Chatham County, the home of both candidates and where more than half of Democratic primary votes are typically cast. Griggs claimed 367 more votes than Herring in Chatham in the May 24 primary; in the runoff, Herring bested Griggs by more than 4,200 votes.
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Herring's victory sets up the confrontation with Carter, whose actions following the Jan. 6 attacks on the U.S. Capitol sparked Herring's run. Carter voted against certifying the 2020 presidential results in the hours following the failed insurrection and later called the violence the actions of a “few who got out of control.”
Herring reacted by penning an open letter to Carter calling for his resignation. The piece was published in the Savannah Morning News. Herring, an attorney, announced he would challenge Carter several months later.
Both Herring and Griggs focused their primary campaigns on Carter and not each other, a strategy that changed following the primary election. Herring in particular went on the offensive, labeling Griggs a "demonstrated loser" in reference to her two earlier election losses, including the 2020 election against Carter.
Griggs came into the runoff as the heavy favorite after narrowly missing an outright victory in the May primary. She fell 636 votes shy of a majority, finishing with 48.6% of the vote. Herring was second with 38% of the vote followed by Michelle Munroe in third with 13.4%, or 6,043 votes.
Munroe declined to endorse either of the runoff candidates ahead of the runoff.
This article originally appeared on Savannah Morning News: Buddy Carter office: U.S. House runoff decides Democratic candidate