By David Beasley
ATLANTA (Reuters) - State Representative Lee Anderson held a narrow lead over businessman Rick Allen in a Republican runoff on Tuesday night in Georgia's 12th Congressional District to decide who will vie for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in November.
The winner of Tuesday's contest will aim to unseat U.S. Representative John Barrow, the only remaining white Democrat in the House from the Deep South, in the general election.
White Southern Democrats have been increasingly scarce in Congress as conservative white voters switch their allegiance to the Republican Party.
Anderson and Allen are facing off in a runoff for their party's nomination because neither candidate received a majority in the July 31 primary election.
Making the November 6 general election even more of a challenge for Barrow, Georgia's Republican-led legislature redrew his eastern Georgia district to increase the number of Republican voters.
The state's congressional districts were re-arranged when Georgia gained one House seat due to its rapid growth reflected in the 2010 Census.
In a Republican runoff Tuesday for the new 9th Congressional District, Doug Collins, a state representative, defeated Martha Zoller, a radio talk show host.
The north Georgia district is heavily Republican, and Collins is now expected to become the state's newest member of Congress.
Zoller would have been the first female Republican to serve in Congress from Georgia if she had won the runoff and general election, said Charles Bullock, a political science professor at the University of Georgia.
Zoller was backed by former Alaska governor and 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin and former U.S. House Speaker and presidential candidate Newt Gingrich. Georgia Governor Nathan Deal and former Governor Zell Miller supported Collins.
Collins will face Democrat Jody Cooley, an attorney, in the general election in November.
(Editing by Mary Slosson and Doina Chiacu)