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GOP Candidate Wins Lousiana Senate Special Election, Shifting Majority

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Unofficial election returns show that Republican Jonathan Perry, shown here with his family, has narrowly defeated Democrat Nathan Granger in the race to fill a vacant state Senate seat, possibly giving the GOP control of the Senate. (http://www.perry4louisiana.com/)

ABBEVILLE, La. -- Unofficial election returns show that Republican Jonathan Perry has narrowly defeated Democrat Nathan Granger in the race to fill a vacant state Senate seat, possibly giving the GOP control of the Senate.

The Louisiana Secretary of State reported on its website Saturday night that Perry received 52 percent of the vote to 48 percent for Granger, with all 106 precincts reporting. Election officials said the results still must be certified and they can be contested until Feb. 28.

Granger told The Associated Press that he left phone and text messages with Perry offering his congratulations.

"The message I left was, 'Congratulations on a great win. Good luck to him and I wish him well."'

Granger said his staff will obviously review the results but that he didn't expect to contest them.

The secretary of state's office said turnout was 25 percent.

Saturday's election was to fill a vacant Senate seat in the Acadiana area that includes all or parts of Vermilion, Acadia, Lafayette and St. Landry parishes. The race pitted Perry, a lawyer and state representative from Kaplan, against Granger of Erath, a member of the Vermilion Parish Police Jury and owner of an oil services company.

The Senate is currently split between 19 Republicans and 19 Democrats, so the special election has been closely watched because the winner of the vacant 26th District seat will determine the majority party. If Perry's win is certified, it will be the first time the GOP has controlled the chamber since Reconstruction.

After a number of party switches, Republicans recently took control of the state House.

Democrat Nick Gautreaux, in office since 2004, resigned from the Senate seat in December to become commissioner of the Office of Motor Vehicles.