Election 2020, News, Politics

Highlights From Georgia’s Primary Runoffs

Election signs seen here at State Farm Arena, which served as an early voting location in the primary runoff election. Two Fulton County incumbents were defeated and a controversial GOP candidate won her primary in North Georgia.
Election signs seen here at State Farm Arena, which served as an early voting location in the primary runoff election. Two Fulton County incumbents were defeated and a controversial GOP candidate won her primary in North Georgia.
Credit John Bazemore / AP Photo/
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In Georgia’s August primary runoff elections, two Fulton County incumbents were defeated and a controversial GOP candidate won her primary in North Georgia.

Fulton voters overwhelmingly rejected incumbent District Attorney Paul Howard after more than 30 years in office as the first African American DA in Georgia history.

His campaign was plagued by scandals that Howard tried to combat, including sexual harassment lawsuits, ethics violations and a criminal investigation by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. That investigation widened to include Howard’s handling of the Rayshard Brooks case, for which he also came under scrutiny. Howard charged two police officers days after Brooks’ shooting, before the GBI had finished its investigation.

Fani Willis beat Incumbent Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard in the Aug. 11 Democratic primary runoff election. (Associated Press file photos)

The new district attorney, Fani Willis, worked as an assistant district attorney for Howard for about half of his tenure. She has been the chief magistrate judge in South Fulton. Willis will be Fulton County’s first female DA.

Fulton County Sheriff Ted Jackson, who was appointed as interim sheriff in 2004 before being elected in 2008, also lost to a challenger. Patrick Labat, former head of the Atlanta Corrections Department, couched himself as a “vocal, clear and consistent voice for reform in our agencies and communities.”

In the four Congressional primary runoffs across the state, Marjorie Taylor Greene’s victory stood out. The supporter of the debunked QAnon conspiracy theory won despite being without support from many national and state Republican leaders.

Greene moved her campaign from the 6th District in suburban Atlanta to Northwest Georgia in December and spent nearly a million dollars of her own money on the race.

Construction executive Marjorie Taylor Greene, background right, won the GOP nomination for northwest Georgia’s 14th Congressional District. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)

She caught national attention for calling newly elected Muslim members of Congress an “Islamic invasion into the government” and calling George Soros, a Jewish Democratic donor, a “Nazi.” She lost an endorsement and several GOP leaders condemned her remarks, but that didn’t slow her down. She won the district by about 20 points and is all but guaranteed the seat—since the district voted 75% for Donald Trump in 2016.

Next door in Northeast Georgia, the candidate supported by many state officials did prevail. Andrew Clyde, who owns a gun store in Athens, Ga., has no political experience but won over establishment Republican support. His opponent, state Rep. Matt Gurtler has dubbed himself the “most hated man in Georgia by establishment Republicans” after voting no on many bills in the General Assembly, including the state budget.

Like Greene, Clyde is extremely likely to take office, though his Democratic challenger was also decided Tuesday: Devin Pandy.

The other Congressional primary runoff happened on the coast, where Joyce Marie Griggs defeated 2018 Democratic candidate Lisa Ring and will face Rep. Buddy Carter in November. Griggs was the Democratic candidate in the race in 2000 as well and lost to former Congressman Jack Kingston.