Both men are from the Dade County area of the district, which also includes Rossville within a sliver of the northwest corner of the state.
In the race for the newly-redrawn District 1, which comprises all of Dade County and the northern part of Walker County, Deffenbaugh received 11,168 votes to McMahan’s 5,140. These numbers represent both counties.
“I had no idea it would be this high,” Deffenbaugh said, referring to the wide margin.
Deffenbaugh, a Dade County commissioner from 1998-2002 who had only decided to run earlier this year, was hopeful as election results came in. He sat with his wife at the Dade County elections office monitoring the count on his iPad. After winning, he returned home to watch national election results, choosing to hold a campaign victory party at a later date.
His first plans are to attend a number of procedural meetings in Alanta for freshman legislators.
“Northwest Georgia hasn’t been as well represented as it could (have been),” he said.
He anticipates having to be under the golden dome of the Georgia capitol for between 50-60 days for the first year.
“The first priority is going to be the budget,” Deffenbaugh said.” We’ve got to cut three to five percent and that’s going to have to happen by the end of this (budget) year in June.
“”If there is waste, I will find it and try my best to rout it out,” Deffenbaugh said. “That’s where we’re going to do our best savings — not affecting actual programs that affect the people, but rather some overhead and slush funds.”
McMahan was disappointed but anticipated the result, learning early on election night that he would not be victorious.
He was surprised by the passage of the charter school amendment, which he recognized had significant support in the metro-Atlanta region.
“I was hoping that people would catch on that it could hurt us up here,” McMahan said.
He fears the legislature will reset the Quality Basic Education formula, which levels the playing field for economically challenged school systems like Walker and Dade counties.
“Many schools could be struggling further for years to come, I’m afraid,” McMahan said.
If that formula is reset to last year’s amount, which is the lowest on record, he believes the public school funding loss will be shifted to charter schools.
He plans to continue to network with the political contacts he has made and even weigh in if his concerns for funding public education worsen.