Marshall ready to retain Georgia seat
Incumbent projected to best Clay in 3rd Congressional District
(CNN) -- In a rematch of Georgia's closest congressional race in 2002, incumbent Jim Marshall again defeated a tough challenge from Republican Calder Clay in Georgia's 3rd District, CNN projects.
Experts had said a Clay victory was possible, as the area supported President Bush in 2002, and the GOP pushed hard to take the seat.
But in late October, there were signs that the Dems could postpone the hand-wringing: Clay cut back his television advertising in the middle Georgia district during the last 10 days of the campaign. Campaign manager Rufus Montgomery insisted the TV pullback didn't indicate a listing campaign.
Yet a blow to Clay's candidacy was dealt when the Macon Telegraph endorsed Marshall, saying, "Marshall has had the ear of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and his top generals, and even anti-Democrat Zell Miller gave him a campaign contribution. ... Marshall has been impressive in his first term in Congress and he should be returned."
In a debate, Clay accused Marshall of delaying his support for a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage until he was pressured by Clay to do so. Marshall countered that he supported the ban from the beginning but didn't like the initial wording. The candidates also disagreed on the future course for Social Security and tort reform.
In the campaign, Marshall described himself as a fiscal conservative and said he planned to be a member of the Armed Services Committee. Clay supported the immediate and permanent repeal to the estate tax and said he would like to terminate the current federal income tax structure and make the tax code simpler.
Marshall, 56, graduated from Princeton in 1972 after a tour in Vietnam interrupted his collegiate career, and earned his law degree in 1977. He was elected mayor of Macon in 1995 and balanced the city's budget for the first time since 1982. His involvement in politics began in 1990, when he co-chaired former Ambassador Andrew Young's run for Georgia governor.
Clay, 47, received a bachelor's degree in economics from the University of Georgia in 1979. After 15 years as a sales representative with Johnson & Johnson and Bristol Myers Squibb, Calder established Clay Land Trust, a real estate investment partnership, in 1997. He is a senior vice president of the Sanford Company, an independent consultant to hospitals and long-term care facilities. In 1995, Calder became the first Republican elected citywide when he won a seat on the Macon City Council.