Republicans sweep Georgia state offices, retain legislature

Republicans swept to victories in all the statewide offices Tuesday’s ballot except U.S. senator, keeping Democrats shut out for the fourth straight four-year cycle on the state level, despite Democrats’ breakthrough on the federal level in 2020.

Republicans also maintained their majorities in Georgia’s legislature on a day when all 180 House seats and all 56 Senate seats were up for election. Republicans won 33 Senate seats, while in the House, they won 98 seats and were leading in three other races that The Associated Press had not yet called Wednesday.

Republican incumbents defended four statewide offices. Attorney General Chris Carr beat Democratic state Sen. Jen Jordan and Libertarian Martin Cowen. Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger beat Democratic state Rep. Bee Nguyen and Libertarian Ted Metz. State School Superintendent Richard Woods defeated Democrat Alisha Thomas Searcy. Insurance Commissioner John King beat Democrat Janice Laws Robinson.

Three Republican state senators won the other downballot statewide offices. Burt Jones will preside over the state Senate as the next lieutenant governor after overcoming Democrat Charlie Bailey and Libertarian Ryan Graham. Tyler Harper was elected agriculture commissioner against Democrat Nakita Hemingway and Libertarian David Raudabaugh. Bruce Thornton will be the next labor commissioner after defeating Democratic state Rep. William Boddie and Libertarian Emily Anderson.

Democrats recruited their strongest statewide field in a decade, with nominees that drew national notice, including state Nguyen, who sought to leverage her party’s outrage over Georgia’s restrictive voting law to raise money nationwide, and Jordan, who ran for attorney general after a raising her profile as a defender of abortion rights.

Heading into Tuesday’s election, Republicans had a 103-76 majority in the House after Democrat Henry “Wayne” Howard of Augusta died in October. In the Senate, Republicans held a 34-22 majority. However, Republicans redrew district lines to create more Democratic-leaning seats and bolster their incumbents, so some losses were expected.

Republicans won the majority in the state Senate when several Democrats switched parties after the 2002 elections and won the majority in the House in 2004.

Democrats were hoping to gain in the General Assembly after redistricting. Fair Districts Georgia, a group that opposes gerrymandering, projected that Republicans had the advantage in 98 of the new state House districts drawn by a Republican majority last year, while Democrats had the advantage in 82 districts.

Republicans, though, held or took over several districts drawn to favor Democrats. The longest-serving member of the House, Republican Gerald Greene, won in a southwest Georgia seat that leans Democratic.

Republican and former state House member Scott Hilton beat incumbent Democrat Mary Robichaux in a district that spanned parts of northern Fulton and southwestern Gwinnett counties.

However, Democrat Jasmine Clark narrowly hung on in a southern Gwinnett County district, while former state Sen. Michelle Au, after her senatorial district was redrawn to favor Republicans, won a state House seat in north Fulton County.

The margin of Republican control is important. Under Georgia law, an absolute majority of all members is required in either chamber to pass legislation. Particularly in the House, if Republicans can bring back more than 100, it would make it easier for them to muster 91 votes on every bill.