Incumbents in Georgia face primary opponents down the ballot
Beyond the marquee races for governor and U.S. Senate, several statewide officials are battling to keep their offices in primary elections that will be decided Tuesday in Georgia.
Georgia’s incumbent attorney general and insurance commissioner both face fellow Republicans endorsed by former President Donald Trump, who also picked a favorite in the open race for lieutenant governor. Meanwhile, the Republican state school superintendent is being opposed by his predecessor.
A look at some key down-ballot races in the Georgia primaries.
Four Republicans are seeking their party’s nomination for lieutenant governor after the office’s current occupant, GOP Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan, passed on seeking another term.
The Republican primary includes two current state lawmakers: Senate President Pro Tem Butch Miller and Sen. Burt Jones. Businesswoman Jeanne Seaver and manufacturing plant supervisor Mack McGregor are also on the Republican ballot. Jones, who was endorsed by Trump, wants a statewide investigation into the 2020 election. Trump claimed, without proof, that victory had been stolen from him through widespread voter fraud. Election officials found no evidence of fraud after multiple reviews.
The crowded Democratic field includes state Reps. Erick Allen, Derrick Jackson and Renitta Shannon. Also running are 2018 Democratic attorney general nominee Charlie Bailey, former Atlanta City Councilmember Kwanza Hall, physician Jason Hayes, Air Force veteran Tony Brown, businessman Rashid Malik and Tyrone Brooks Jr., son of a longtime state lawmaker.
Georgia’s Republican primary for attorney general features yet another Trump-backed candidate challenging a Republican incumbent over the 2020 election.
Attorney General Chris Carr faces fellow Republican John Gordon, who says he wants to investigate Trump’s claims of election fraud and that Carr isn’t doing enough to look into them. Carr notes that Republicans lost and there’s no stolen election to investigate.
In the Democratic primary, state Sen. Jen Jordan ran on protecting consumers and abortion rights. She faces Christian Wise Smith, a former Fulton County prosecutor who founded a nonprofit that works to end police brutality. Smith wants to divert more low-level nonviolent offenders into treatment and rehabilitation and focus on prosecuting more serious crimes.
Insurance Commissioner John King faces his first election challenge since the governor appointed him to the post in 2019. The former Doraville police chief and Army National Guard officer took the job following the indictment of his predecessor, Jim Beck, who was convicted last year of fraud.
Two fellow Republicans are opposing King. Ben Cowart is a real estate developer and Patrick Witt is a legal consultant endorsed by Trump. Witt says he wants to stop “woke insurance mandates” such as requiring coverage for gender reassignment surgery.
The Democratic primary features three contenders. Janice Laws Robinson ran unsuccessfully for insurance commissioner as the 2018 Democratic nominee. She faces insurance salesman Raphael Baker and attorney Matthew Wilson.
Georgia’s Republican state school superintendent is in an election fight with his predecessor, who wants the job back.
Incumbent Superintendent Richard Woods is being opposed in the GOP primary by John Barge, who held the office before him. Their race has been marked by back-and-forth allegations over who did the job worse.
Four Democrats are seeking to wrest the superintendent’s office from Republican control. All say they want to steer the focus away from culture-war clashes. Jaha Howard serves on the Cobb County school board. Currey Hitchens is an attorney and former teacher. Alisha Thomas Searcy ran unsuccessfully for state superintendent in 2014. And James Morrow is a Clayton County teacher.
Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black isn’t seeking reelection, opting instead to run for U.S. Senate in the Republican primary that includes former football great Herschel Walker.
State Rep. Winfred Dukes left the legislature after 25 years to seek the Democratic nomination for the race to succeed Black. Also running are Fred Swann, the Democrat who unsuccessfully challenged Black in 2018, and Nakita Hemingway, a cut-flower grower and real estate agent.
Republican state Sen. Tyler Harper is unopposed for the GOP nomination.
Three Republicans and five Democrats are on primary ballots for the race to succeed GOP Labor Commissioner Mark Butler, who isn’t seeking reelection. Butler’s last term was marked by a scramble to process record unemployment claims resulting from coronavirus shutdowns.
Butler’s former deputy labor commissioner, Mike Coan, is seeking to succeed Butler and has received his boss’s endorsement. State Sen. Bruce Thompson and businessman Kartik Bhatt round out the GOP primary field.
The Democratic contest consists of state Sen. Lester Jackson, state Rep. William Boddie, attorney and businesswoman Nadia Surrency, entrepreneur Nicole Horn and courier Thomas Dean.
Bynum reported from Savannah, Georgia.