Georgia Democrats look to settle statewide races in runoffs
ATLANTA (AP) — Democrats on Tuesday are settling multiple statewide races and congressional primaries, including three races where Stacey Abrams has endorsed other members of her party that she wants on the ticket as she runs for governor. There are three Republican congressional runoffs, including two in heavily Republican districts. Two Democratic congressional runoffs feature a frontrunner who lost to a Republican in 2020 but wants another shot. Finally, there are 11 state legislative runoffs, including one Republican incumbent and one Democratic incumbent in the state House who failed to win majorities in the May 24 primary.
Here’s a look at the races:
SECRETARY OF STATE
State Rep. Bee Nguyen and former state Rep. Dee Dawkins-Haigler are vying for the chance to challenge incumbent Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in the fall. Former President Donald Trump targeted Raffensperger for failing to overturn his narrow loss in the state. Raffensperger beat a Trump-endorsed primary challenger without being forced into a runoff.
The once-sleepy office was thrust into the spotlight when Trump began spreading baseless claims about widespread election fraud.
Nguyen and Dawkins-Haigler say they want to increase voter education and work more closely with counties to ensure universal access to free, fair and secure elections. They criticize Raffensperger for backing a sweeping election overhaul passed last year by Republican state lawmakers. Abrams is backing Nguyen.
Former Atlanta City Council member Kwanza Hall led all candidates in the May 24 primary, despite a low-profile, low-dollar campaign. Second-place finisher Charlie Bailey, who was the Democratic nominee for attorney general in 2018, is trying to overtake Hall, backed by Democratic leaders including Abrams.
The winner will take on Republican state Sen. Burt Jones, who triumphed in the May 24 primary after being endorsed by Trump.
Bailey had been running for attorney general again but shifted into the lieutenant governor’s race. Bailey has been promising to work with Abrams to cover uninsured adults, improve education and increase public safety. Bailey has been attacking Hall for money Hall received from the city of Atlanta after stepping down from the City Council. Despite a prohibition on the city hiring former officials for a year, Hall says he did nothing wrong.
Hall also served out the last month of the late John Lewis’ term in Congress, and enjoys strong name recognition. He argues his time on the City Council has prepared him to work with Republicans. Hall has focused on economic empowerment, calling for the state to set aside 30% of its contracts for minority and women-owned business. Hall said he wants to legalize marijuana and steer resulting business opportunities toward minority communities.
State Rep. William Boddie Jr. and entrepreneur Nicole Horn both have focused on overhauling the state Labor Department, beset by complaints when Georgia’s unemployment rate hit a record during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Incumbent Republican Mark Butler isn’t seeking reelection and the GOP has nominated state Sen. Bruce Thompson of White.
Both Boddie and Horn agreed that the department needs more money to hire more employees so that jobless benefit applicants can get responses to questions. Boddie said his legislative experience will help him persuade lawmakers to give the department more money. Horn said her business experience would enable her to be an effective manager.
Both criticize Republicans for pulling Georgia out of the federal program that extended unemployment benefits months before the federal program expired.
Abrams endorsed Boddie.
Insurance salesman Raphael Baker and 2018 Democratic nominee Janice Laws Robinson seek the Democratic nomination for insurance commissioner. The winner will face incumbent Republican John King in November.
Laws Robinson has said she would target Georgia’s high auto insurance costs by changing state law to make it easier for the commissioner to block rate increases before they take effect. She said she would also crack down on insurers taking advantage of policy buyers through unfair underwriting practices.
Baker, a Democratic activist, also said he wants to lower auto insurance rates. He said Black consumers, in particular, pay too much, and he wants to make insurance practices more equitable. Baker also said he would focus on education about insurance and safe driving practices.
Republicans are settling three congressional nominations. In the 10th Congressional District, east of Atlanta, trucking company owner Mike Collins and former Democrat Vernon Jones are vying in a bitter runoff. Trump backs Jones, but Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, fresh off a primary triumph over Trump-backed David Perdue, has joined other GOP officeholders in backing Collins.
In the 6th District in Atlanta’s northern suburbs, emergency room physician Rich McCormick is trying to hold off Trump-backed lawyer Jake Evans, each accusing the other of being insufficiently conservative.
The 6th and the 10th are both heavily Republican districts.
In southwest Georgia’s 2nd District, Republicans have high hopes of knocking off 30-year Democratic incumbent Sanford Bishop. The GOP is choosing between former Army officer Jeremy Hunt and real estate developer Chris West in that race.
In coastal Georgia’s 1st District, Joyce Marie Griggs is relying on a grassroots approach to persuade Democrats to choose her again to challenge Republican U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter. Griggs, a disbarred lawyer, lost to Carter in 2020. Lawyer Wade Herring has outspent Griggs, telling Democrats he would have a better chance of winning the seat.
In the 10th District, Tabitha Johnson-Green is trying to become the Democratic nominee for the third cycle in a row, having lost to departing incumbent Jody Hice in 2018 and 2020. Athens real estate agent and musician Jessica Fore is trying to overtake Johnson-Green.
STATE LEGISLATIVE SEATS
One state Senate and 10 state House seats will see party nominations settled.
Banker Mike Hodges and former state House member Jeff Jones will contend for the Republican nomination in Senate District 3 on the Georgia coast, covering all of Brantley, Camden, Charlton, Glynn and McIntosh counties and part of Ware County.
Among six Republican and four Democratic state House contests are two incumbents who didn’t win majorities on May 24 and must win runoffs Tuesday to keep their chances of reelection alive. Republican incumbent Sheri Gilligan, a sometime critic of House Speaker David Ralston, is opposed by Carter Barrett in House District 24 in southwestern Forsyth County. Democratic incumbent Roger Bruce is vying with Rashaun Kemp in House District 61 in southern Fulton and northeastern Douglas counties.
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