It looks like the Cobb County chairman race is headed to a runoff.
With all 144 precincts reporting, retired Marine Col. Mike Boyce garnered slightly more than 49 percent of the votes casts. Incumbent Commission Chairman Tim Lee was in second with 40.4 percent of the vote.
A third candidate, Larry Savage, picked up the remaining 10.5 percent of ballots cast.
The race is widely viewed a referendum on the new Atlanta Braves stadium near Smyrna, Ga. Lee secretly negotiated a deal with the Atlanta Braves to move the team from Downtown Atlanta, and while the state Supreme Court has upheld the deal as legal, there is lingering resentment among many in Cobb County.
“While aspects of the deal structure at issue may push the law about as far as it can go, it does not cross the line into illegality,” the Georgia Supreme Court said in its ruling.
Cobb County officials have been unable to articulate how they will improve traffic around the new stadium, which is to open in 2017. The stadium sits near the busy interchange of interstates 75 and 285.
They have offered vague assurances that their plan to improve infrastructure in the Cumberland area will improve the flow of traffic by the time the stadium opens. However, a bridge to carry pedestrians across Interstate 285 will not be open when the stadium begins hosting ball games.
“I’ve made it very clear this is a delayed referendum on something that should have happened three years ago. And I can assure you, and I’m not just saying this, that is the theme at the door,” the Marietta Daily Journal quoted Boyce as saying. “The voters have not forgotten that he did not ask them to use their money. They remember that.”
Lee disagreed, the paper reported.
“My campaign has been about my record of tax cuts, enhancing public safety, creating jobs and growing the economy” the newspaper quoted Lee as saying. Boyce’s “campaign has been about looking backwards. He’s not authored one idea yet of what the county might look like under his leadership. Frankly, I disagree — it’s not about that referendum, I think it’s about who’s been able to make the hard decisions and move things forward versus someone who wants to take us backwards.”