While nobody named Trump or Clinton appears on the ballot this time around, Georgia voters still have some big decisions to make in primary elections Tuesday.
Nearly three months after Georgia held presidential primaries, voters return to the polls Tuesday to determine whether the state’s senior U.S. senator gets a shot at keeping his job another six years. Voters also must decide if five GOP congressmen and one member of the utility-regulating Georgia Public Service Commission deserve to stay in office.
A look at key primary races in Georgia:
KEEP ISAKSON, OR ROCK THE BOAT?
If he wants to return to Washington for a third term, Sen. Johnny Isakson first must overcome two fellow Republicans standing in his way.
Both of Isakson’s GOP challengers ran unsuccessful statewide campaigns in 2014. Derrick Grayson, an engineer from Redan, has questioned whether Isakson would complete another six-year term. Isakson announced last summer that he has Parkinson’s disease, but says he can still do the job.
Mary Kay Bacallao, a college professor from Fayetteville, is also running for the seat. She has criticized Isakson for voting with others to replace the federal education standards known as No Child Left Behind.
Three Democrats are running for Isakson’s seat. Investment manager Jim Barksdale of Atlanta has backing from top Georgia Democrats and loaned his campaign $1.1 million. Project manager Cheryl Copeland of Hira and Atlanta businessman John Coyne round out the Democratic field.
In west Georgia, seven Republicans are competing for the party’s nomination to replace GOP Rep. Lynn Westmoreland as he retires from Congress.
The crowded GOP contest could easily go to a runoff July 26. The Republican contenders: state Sen. Mike Crane of Newnan, Air Force veteran Samuel Anders of Newnan, former West Point Mayor Drew Ferguson, Jonesboro business owner Chip Flanegan, Newnan film producer Richard Mix, Peachtree City businessman Jim Pace and Newnan educator Arnall “Rod” Thomas.
Two Democrats — Angela Pendley of Grantville and Newnan pastor Tamarkus Cook — are also seeking Westmoreland’s Republican-leaning House seat.
Five of Georgia’s Republican congressmen must fend off GOP challengers to advance to the fall campaign.
Reps. Doug Collins of Gainesville and Barry Loudermilk of Cassville were battling four opponents apiece. Collins’ challengers in the 9th District included former congressman Paul Broun. Of Loudermilk’s opponents in the 11th District, only Kennesaw businessman Daniel Cowan has raised serious cash.
Rep. Rick Allen faced a 12th District rematch with fellow Augusta Republican Eugene Yu — a businessman who finished 38 percentage points behind Allen in the 2014 primary.
Unopposed by Republicans or Democrats since he first won office in 2010, GOP Rep. Austin Scott of Tifton is facing his first re-election challenger in the 8th District, Macon business owner Angela Hicks.
In northwest Georgia’s 14h District, Rep. Tom Graves of Ranger faced a pair of Republicans: Rome business owner Allen Levene and electrician Mickey Tuck of Silver Creek.
Two fellow Republicans are running to deny Tim Echols a second, six-year term on the state Public Service Commission.
Echols faces Kellie Pollard Austin, a Lawrenceville political consultant, and Warner Robins businesswoman Michelle Miller in the Republican primary.
Pollard has questioned Echols’ conservative credentials, while Miller has run on promises to work toward making energy cheaper and more efficient.
One state lawmaker hopes metro Atlanta voters show forgiveness after he was charged with drunken driving last month.
Republican Rep. Tom Taylor of Dunwoody said he made a “serious mistake” after he was arrested April 7 in Rabun County. His GOP primary opponent, Tom Owens of Doraville, ran on the slogan “sober conservative judgment.”
A police report said Taylor’s blood-alcohol content was nearly three times over the legal limit. He had four teen-age passengers.
Meanwhile, GOP House Speaker David Ralston faces a primary rematch with Sam Snider, a retired educator from Ellijay. In 2014, Ralston trounced Snider by winning 65 percent of the vote.
In the Georgia House, 34 Republican and 27 Democratic incumbents face primary opponents. In the Senate, 12 Republicans and three Democrats face contested primaries.
Secretary of State Brian Kemp predicts solid turnout Tuesday based on early voting numbers.
Kemp’s office reported about 329,000 people cast or mailed in ballots by Friday, the last day for early voting before Tuesday’s primary.
That’s a 38 percent increase from early voting totals in the 2012 primary. But it’s still far behind the more than 417,000 who set an early voting record in Georgia before the March presidential primaries.