Davenport, Jones, Mabra win State Legislative Run-offs


(APN) ATLANTA — In the Partisan Primary Run-off Elections held on Tuesday, August 21, 2012, State Sen. Gail Davenport (D-Atlanta) retained the State Senate District 44 seat, while LaDawn Blackett Jones “LBJ” won in House District 62, and Ronnie Mabra won in House District 63.


State Sen. Gail Davenport (D-Clayton) defeated former State Sen. Gail Buckner (D-Clayton) with 54 percent of the vote.

Davenport, who is Black, benefitted in part from redistricting, which removed Henry County from the District, and added parts of DeKalb County, including the heavily Black areas of South DeKalb.

It was a reversal of fortunes for the two Gails: in 2008, Buckner, who is White, defeated Davenport for the same seat.  

As the story goes, in 2006, Davenport ran and won for the open State Senate seat, while Buckner, then a State Representative, ran for Secretary of State of Georgia.  Buckner won the Democratic nomination, but lost to Republican Karen Handel

In 2008, Buckner challenged Sen. Davenport and won.

At the time, Buckner made an issue of Davenport’s encouragement for the Board of Education of Clayton County to fight the accreditation agency, SACS, during the school system’s accreditation crisis, which Buckner believes only made matters worse.

In 2010, after serving two years in the Senate, Buckner decided to run again for Secretary of State.  In this race, she was endorsed by Atlanta Progressive News in the Democratic Primary because of her support for adding a paper trail to electronic voting.  However, she did not win the nomination.  

Meanwhile, Sen. Davenport ran for her old seat in 2010 and won.  She had faced former State Rep. Mike Glanton and Dawn Randolph in the Primary.

So, now in 2012, Buckner was running to knock Davenport out of her seat a second time and this time she was not successful.

“I’m so delighted.  I carried Clayton County and DeKalb County.  I was so overjoyed over it and my supporters too,” Davenport told APN.

“This time we were able to share our story and this time we were able to get our voters back to the polls.  In a runoff, that’s what it is,” Davenport said.

“I had not done a lot of work in DeKalb County, but I was able to get my story out there.  Any time you have redistricting and you don’t know the people, you get nervous about it,” she said.

Davenport, who previously worked with the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, said she has worked “in the community for civil rights and human rights for over thirty years.”

“We heard there was a Republican crossover in 2008, and this past year,” Davenport said.

When asked why Republicans would support Buckner when she is clearly a Democrat, “if they have someone who’s been supporting inclusion for everybody and someone who’s been supporting inclusion for certain people,” the Republicans will go with the latter, Davenport said.

“That is another one of her twisted truths.  I have been supportive of every group that exists in Clayton County, the State of Georgia, and the United States of America.  That is why I have received numerous awards from the NAACP all the way over to Clayton County Citizen of the Year,” Buckner told APN.

“I’m concerned that the District will not be having efficient and effective representation,” Buckner, who did not call Davenport to say congratulations, said.

“I’m pleased that I won the original part of the district where both candidates were equally known.  I lost the new part of district – DeKalb and the panhandle of Clayton County.  It was really South DeKalb that was the issue,” Buckner said.

“Unfortunately, my opponent spent her time mailing out half-truths about the predatory lending bill,” Buckner said.

While in the State House, Buckner supported a second round of predatory lending legislation in the State of Georgia after she said it became clear that what had previously passed was going to face significant legal challenges.  

Buckner noted it was “legislation that 142 members of the House of Representatives voted for, including the Democratic leadership and legislators from DeKalb county.  It was passed and signed into law.  The Governor could’ve vetoed it; Davenport could’ve authored an amendment,” she said.

“She wanted a fractious political issue that she could twist, and throw in on top of that I’m supported by Republicans.  That is a figment of her imagination.  That was a scare tactic, that she and [Clayton County Sheriff candidate] Victor Hill tried to float throughout Clayton, even so far as to claim that we were trying to elect people who after the election would then vote to have part of Clayton County annexed into Henry,” Buckner said. 

Buckner said the high level of Republican turnout in Clayton County in their own Primary Election this year contradicts the notion that Republicans decided to vote in the Democratic Primary.

Buckner said that she does not regret giving up the Senate seat in 2010 to run for Secretary of State, and that she will continue to be involved in civic and policy issues involving Clayton County.

Meanwhile, Davenport is excited about continuing her work in the State Senate and said she wants to see Clayton County Commission approve a binding referendum for citizens to decide whether to join MARTA.

There are “new people on the Board, [who] I think will listen to the people,” Davenport said, referring to Jeff Turner and Shana Rooks, two pro-transit candidates who defeated Chairman Eldrin Bell and Commissioner Wole Ralph, respectively.

“We’re gonna work with them.  I’m confident I can work with the Chairman and the Commission.  I supported transport in Clayton County 30 years ago,” Davenport said.


In House District 62, which includes parts of Douglas and Fulton Counties, LaDawn Blackett Jones, who goes by the nickname LBJ, defeated Marvin Arrington, Jr., in the Run-off to win the Democratic nomination.

Jones did not provide responses to APN’s candidate questionnaire in the Primary because she said she was not familiar enough with the issues.

Arrington, Jr., is the son of Marvin Arrington, a former judge and Atlanta City Councilman.

Two other candidates, Kip Carr and Benny Crane, also ran in the Democratic Primary in that race.

In House District 63, which includes parts of Clayton, Fayette, and Fulton Counties, Ronnie Mabra defeated TJ Copeland in the Run-off to win the Democratic nomination.  

Linda Pritchett had also run in the Primary in that race.

This particular race was filled with scandal and intrigue involving every candidate.  An Administrative Law Judge ruled that Mabra was not a resident of the District, but Secretary of State Brian Kemp overturned the ruling.

Meanwhile, in the last days before the Primary, CBS Atlanta ran a report that Pritchett had previous arrests for such crimes as having fake license plates and stealing merchandise from Wal-mart.  And in the last days before the Run-off, The Citizen newspaper of Fayette County reported that Copeland is facing DUI charges.


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