Tuesday, June 18, 2024

In Georgia, fierce state Supreme Court race, Republican congressional primary top ballots

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Georgia’s elections on Tuesday include a state Supreme Court race that’s grown unusually heated by the sleepy standards of the state’s nonpartisan judicial elections, as well as a five-way GOP primary for an open seat in the strongly Republican 3rd Congressional District south and west of Atlanta.

Two Democratic congressional incumbents — U.S. Reps. David Scott and Lucy McBath — face primary challengers in metro Atlanta districts that were redrawn by Republicans after redistricting lawsuits.

Parties are also choosing their nominees for other congressional and state legislative seats and local offices including sheriffs, district attorneys and county commissioners.

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Runoffs will be held June 18 in races where candidates don’t win a majority.

Here’s a look at key races:

STATE SUPREME COURT

The May 21 vote is the general election for judicial candidates, who run without party labels.

Supreme Court Justice Andrew Pinson poses, April 17, 2024, in Atlanta. Voters are deciding the race between Pinson and Democratic former congressman John Barrow in a nonpartisan general election on May 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart, File)

Incumbent Justice Andrew Pinson, who was appointed to the nine-member court by Gov. Brian Kemp in 2022, is trying to win a six-year term. He is opposed by John Barrow, a former Democratic congressman.

Barrow says he believes Georgians have a right to abortion under the state constitution, while Pinson says it’s inappropriate for him to talk about issues and important not to make the race partisan.

Kemp and other conservatives intervened to aid Pinson. Barrow unsuccessfully sued in federal court, saying a state judicial agency was violating his free-speech rights when the agency warned Barrow his discussion of abortion might be violating judicial ethics.

Justices Michael Boggs, John Ellington and Nels Peterson are unopposed. Six judges on the Georgia Court of Appeals are also unopposed, while Jeff Davis and Tabitha Ponder are contending for an open seat on the court.

3RD CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT

Five Republicans are seeking their party’s nomination to succeed Republican U.S. Rep. Drew Ferguson, who is stepping down after four terms.

Former President Donald Trump has endorsed his onetime aide Brian Jack for the seat. Jack, who later worked for then-U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, parlayed Trump’s endorsement and his Washington contacts into a fundraising lead in his first run for office.

Also seeking the nomination are former state Sens. Mike Crane and Mike Dugan, former state Rep. Philip Singleton and party activist Jim Bennett. Dugan emphasized his successes as state Senate majority leader, while Crane highlighted his religious beliefs and opposition to abortion. Singleton promised not to compromise conservative principles.

The Republican nominee will be the favorite in a strongly Republican district that runs along the Alabama border from Carrollton to Columbus and swings east into the Atlanta suburbs around Peachtree City and Fayetteville.

On the Democratic side, Val Almonord and Maura Keller are seeking their party’s nomination.

13TH CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT

Scott faces six Democratic challengers in the 13th District in Atlanta’s southern and eastern suburbs as he seeks a 12th term. The challengers include former East Point City Council member Karen Rene’, former South Fulton City Council member Mark Baker and attorney Brian Johnson. On the Republican side, Jonathan Chavez is running against Johsie Cruz Fletcher.

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The 13th District was significantly reconfigured in a new map, moving north and east into Rockdale County and parts of Newton and Gwinnett counties. Challengers are saying Scott, 78, is too old and out of touch. Scott said in March that he’s seeking another term to enhance funding for historically Black colleges such as Fort Valley State University, and to provide more assistance to struggling homeowners.

6TH CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT

McBath is running in her second new district in two years. In 2022, she jumped to a district that included parts of Gwinnett and Fulton counties, defeating fellow Democratic incumbent Carolyn Bourdeaux in a primary. Republicans again sharply reconfigured McBath’s district in a second round of redistricting last year after a court ordered new maps to remedy discrimination against Black voters. She then shifted to the new Democratic-leaning 6th District on the west side of Atlanta, which has no incumbent.

McBath, whose son was shot to death, has made gun control and reducing gun violence her primary focus. She also says she wants to work on reducing health care disparities in another term. She faces primary opposition from Cobb County Commissioner Jerica Richardson and state Rep. Mandisha Thomas, Democrats who say they could better represent the new 6th District. The Democratic winner faces Republican Jeff Criswell in November.

2ND CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT

Two years ago, Republicans had hoped they had a chance to defeat 16-term Democratic incumbent Sanford Bishop Jr. in southwest Georgia’s 2nd District. But Bishop won that election easily. Now four more Republicans are lining up to take a shot a Bishop, who is unopposed on the Democratic ballot.

Wayne Johnson, of Macon, who was an official in the U.S. Education Department under Trump, finished third in the Republican primary two years ago and is again seeking the nomination. Among other candidates is Chuck Hand, a Taylor County Republican Party official and construction superintendent who pleaded guilty a misdemeanor for illegally demonstrating in the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. He was sentenced to 20 days in federal prison and six months of probation. Also running is Michael Nixon, of Thomasville, a hospital purchasing director and Air Force veteran, and Regina “Reggie” Liparoto, of Columbus, a longtime conservative activist.

14TH CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT

Four Democrats in northwest Georgia’s 14th District are competing for the right to challenge Republican incumbent Marjorie Taylor Greene, who has no GOP opposition.

The Democrats are consultant Clarence Blalock, of Hiram; retired Army general Shawn Harris, of Cedartown; sales manager Deric Houston, of Dallas; and business manager Joseph Leigh, of Rossville. Harris has by far raised the most money of the four.

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For most candidates, their top issue is their distaste for Greene, a top ally of Trump who recently failed in an effort to oust House Speaker Mike Johnson. The winner will have an uphill fight in a heavily Republican district. Two years ago, Democrat Marcus Flowers raised more than $16 million in his challenge to Greene but still lost badly.

OTHER RACES

Republican U.S. Rep. Barry Loudermilk is the only other incumbent who faces a primary challenge. Retired banker and longtime Republican activist Lori Marie Pesta and retired airline pilot Mike Pons are running against Loudermilk in the 11th Congressional District northwest of Atlanta. Antonio Daza and Kate Stamper are seeking the Democratic nomination.

Democrats are also choosing nominees to challenge Republican incumbents in south and middle Georgia’s 8th District, northeast Georgia’s 10th District and in the 12th District around Augusta.



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