Challenger Leads Incumbent in Griffin Circuit Superior Court Judge Race

In most cases, an individual on the Superior Court bench in Georgia faces minimal opposition, if any at all, and wins bids for re-election until such time he or she retires. That maxim is being challenged this year, as Fayette County District Attorney Scott Ballard is challenging Judge Tommy Hankinson for his seat on the Griffin Judicial Circuit bench. That circuit includes Fayette, Pike, Spalding, and Upson Counties.

Based on a recent poll of likely voters conducted by Opinion Savvy’s Matt Towery, Ballard leads Hankinson by a margin of two to one, although a majority of voters are undecided in the race. The non-partisan election will be held on May 24th, the same day as party primaries in Georgia. 31.9% of those polled say they would vote for Ballard, while 16.8% would vote for Hankinson. The poll also found that 29.4% of those polled strongly approved of the District Attorney, and 24.6% had not heard of him. For Judge Hankinson, 16.4% strongly approved of him, byt 52.2 percent had not heard of him. The poll has a margin of error of 4.5%.

Pollster Towery says the results represent good news for Ballard. “This is good news at such an early stage, especially against an incumbent. [Ballard] also has widespread approval, especially from those who indicated that they will definitely vote in the May 24 primary.” Ballard was also enthusiastic about the poll results:

While it is still very early and we have not even begun to campaign, it is encouraging that so many of the voters seem to recognize our Court needs to be stronger. In the coming weeks, I look forward to sharing my vision for a stronger, more effective Court with the voters.

When I decided to run, I did worry the weakness of the court was not widespread knowledge. It is apparent from the poll that the public is open to change and willing to consider a candidate who will make the Court stronger.

Scott Ballard practiced law in downtown Fayetteville for almost 20 years, specializing in criminal and family law cases. He ran for District Attorney in 2004 and took office in 2005. Ballard is a graduate of Fayette County High School, the University of Georgia, and the Florida State College of Law.

Here are the survey results and crosstabs:

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Will Durant
Will Durant

Has Hankinson screwed up or is it just a matter of Ballard not wanting to bide his time? I know lawyers are loathe to criticize each other in public but there has to be some reason a DA would essentially be going all in.


I don’t know anything about this situation but if Hankinson is soft or erratic you think someone would mention it. Instead, it looks as if Ballard has the itch, and maybe a grievance too.

“Historically, the path to a superior court judgeship in the Griffin district has led through the district attorney’s office as a first stop. However, D.A. Ballard was passed over when the two most recent openings occurred . . . ”