UPDATE: Incumbent Ed Harbison re-elected to Georgia State Senate District 15

Democratic incumbent and Columbus resident Ed Harbison surged to re-election in Georgia State Senate District 15 Tuesday night, fending off Republican challenger David Brown.

District 15 includes a portion of Muscogee County and all of Chattahoochee, Macon, Marion, Schley, Talbot and Taylor counties. Unofficial election results compiled by the Ledger-Enquirer showed Harbison taking 29,659 votes, or 83.4 percent, in Muscogee County, compared to 5,885, or 16.6 percent, for Brown.

With five of those seven counties reporting late Tuesday night, Harbison had accumulated 36,995 votes, or 74.3 percent, to Brown’s 12,743, or 25.6 percent, according to the Georgia Secretary of State’s online election results.

“I’m highly gratified, especially with the fact that I have a whole new area of counties and seem to be doing pretty well in most of those counties,” said Harbison, who was gathered with supporters at his campaign office on Midtown Drive in Columbus. “I presented myself to most of the people out there and they seem to have understood that I’ll be a good public servant for that area out there as well.”

Harbison, 70, has spent nearly two decades as a lawmaker in the Georgia General Assembly, first elected in 1993. He chairs the Veterans, Military and Homeland Security Committee.

He looks to focus on one military-related issue in particular as the next legislative session cranks up on the second Monday in January. He hopes, with the support of State Rep. Richard Smith, to push an effort to establish a tax credit for military retirees who settle on the Georgia side of the Chattahoochee Valley. Currently, retirees living in Alabama pay no state income tax on their military pensions.

“For your city and area to grow, you want to make sure you’re competitive,” he said of the issue, which he called a “leak” in the city’s bucket that needs to be fixed.

Brown, 43, a resident of nearby Reynolds, Ga., acknowledged that the electorate had spoken in his first attempt at public office. The engineer and pastor is retired from the U.S. Army National Guard.

“It’s been very interesting,” he said of the experience. “I think more people should get out and make a stand for public office if you feel strongly about the issues and the direction that the state is going, the region is going, the country is going The people of District 15 have made their voice known, their votes count. It’s not quite what I would have chosen, but it is the direction that District 15 wants to go in.”