ATLANTA, JULY 17 -- Lt. Gov. Zell Miller finished first in Georgia's genteel five-way Democratic primary for governor tonight and will compete in a runoff with Andrew Young, bidding to become the state's first black chief executive.
With 76 percent of 2,446 precincts reported, Miller had 41 percent; Young had 29 percent; state Sen. Roy Barnes had 21 percent; state Rep. Lauren "Bubba" McDonald had 7 percent, and former governor Lester Maddox, a onetime arch segregationist, 3 percent.
Georgia law provides for an Aug. 7 runoff between the top two candidates, unless one wins a majority in the primary.
"I hear Georgia singing a new song full of hope and harmony," Miller told supporters. "We're going to keep on doing what we're doing" for the runoff, Young said.
Young, a onetime aide to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. who went on to be a congressman, ambassador to the United Nations and mayor of Atlanta, hoped to follow in the footsteps of Virginia's L. Douglas Wilder. Wilder last year became the nation's first elected black governor.
As voters headed to the polls, a federal judge refused to halt the Aug. 7 primary runoff despite a challenge by blacks to Georgia's majority vote rule.
U.S. District Judge Richard C. Freeman said that granting an injunction at this late date to halt the runoff would "significantly disrupt elections at all levels in Georgia."
But he added that the plaintiffs had raised a legitimate point that would have to be decided later.
The gubernatorial campaign was notably short on mudslinging or negative advertising. Race was mentioned far less than such issues as abortion, gambling and the economy.
Recent polls showed Young running slightly behind Miller, a moderate who has enjoyed black support in his 16 years in the state's No. 2 job.
Young predicted Monday he would run more strongly in predominantly white areas than pollsters and other observers expected. About 25 percent of Georgia's voting-age population is black.
Young and Miller, both 58, supported abortion rights while Barnes, 42, third in opinion polls, advocated restrictions on abortion.
Democratic Gov. Joe Frank Harris is completing the state limit of two four-year terms and remained neutral in the primary.
In the Republican primary, state Rep. Johnny Isakson, 45, a real estate executive from the north Atlanta suburbs, was the victor over three challengers. The well-financed Isakson is regarded as the most serious Republican threat in years to the Democratic lock on the governor's mansion.
The only congressional incumbent with primary opposition was Rep. Doug Barnard, a Democrat from Augusta, who trounced journalism student Scott A. Starling of Athens by a 3 to 1 majority. Two Republicans sought to oppose Barnard or Starling in the November general election.
J.B. Stoner, a white supremacist who served time in prison for the bombing of a black church in Alabama, ran for the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor, but was not regarded as a serious contender.
Eight other Democrats were in the race.