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Moderate Republican Leads Ga. Vote

February 24, 1999

ATLANTA (AP) _ A Republican with a reputation for consensus-building instead of partisan trench warfare was winning a special election Tuesday for the House seat vacated by Newt Gingrich.

The only suspense for front-runner Johnny Isakson was whether he would get a majority of the vote in the seven-way race and avoid a runoff.

With 19 percent of precincts reporting, Isakson had 6,379 votes, or 56 percent, while the closest contender, Christina Jeffrey, had 3,447 votes, or 30 percent.

Gingrich, the former House speaker, gave up his seat after his party’s poor showing in the November elections.

The race in the staunchly GOP district in the prosperous Atlanta suburbs had no experienced Democrats _ perhaps because party leaders see Isakson as a pleasant change from the combative Gingrich.

Isakson, 54, a real estate millionaire, was a state lawmaker for 17 years. He is known for working with Democrats such as former Gov. Zell Miller, who once appointed Isakson to quell a conflict between the state’s first GOP schools superintendent and the Democratic-appointed school board.

During Isakson’s failed Senate bid in 1996, he touted his abortion-rights views. He played down the issue in this race.

The only other well-known candidate was Jeffrey, 51, a Kennesaw State University professor who was hired and then fired by Gingrich in 1995 as House historian amid controversy over her review of a Holocaust course.

Elsewhere Tuesday, Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley sought a third full term in a race against Rep. Bobby Rush, a fellow Democrat and a former Black Panther.

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