Activist state

Georgia Democrats seek to hold statewide races in runoffs

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FILE – Former State Rep. Dee Dawkins-Haigler, left, and Georgia State Rep. Bee Nguyen, right, participate in the Georgia Secretary of State’s Democratic Primary Runoff Debates , on June 6, 2022, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson, File)

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On Tuesday, Democrats are holding several statewide races and congressional primaries, including three races where Stacey Abrams has endorsed other members of her party she wants on the ticket as she runs for the post of governor. There are three Republican ballots in Congress, including two in heavily Republican districts. Two Democratic congressional playoffs feature a favorite who lost to a Republican in 2020 but wants another shot. Finally, there are 11 state legislatures, including one Republican incumbent and one Democratic incumbent in the State House who failed to secure a majority in the May 24 primary.

Here is an overview of the races:

SECRETARY OF STATE

State Representative Bee Nguyen and former State Representative Dee Dawkins-Haigler are vying for the chance to challenge incumbent Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in the fall. Former President Donald Trump has targeted Raffensperger for failing to undo his narrow loss in the state. Raffensperger defeated a Trump-endorsed primary challenger without being forced into a runoff.

The once sleepy office was thrust into the spotlight when Trump began spreading baseless allegations of widespread voter fraud.

Nguyen and Dawkins-Haigler say they want to increase voter education and work more closely with counties to ensure universal access to free, fair and secure elections. They criticize Raffensperger for backing a sweeping electoral overhaul passed last year by Republican state lawmakers. Abrams supports Nguyen.

LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR

Former Atlanta City Councilman Kwanza Hall led all candidates in the May 24 primary, despite a low-key, low-cost campaign. Runner-up Charlie Bailey, who was the Democratic nominee for attorney general in 2018, is trying to overtake Hall, backed by Democratic leaders including Abrams.

The winner will face Republican Senator Burt Jones, who triumphed in the May 24 primary after being endorsed by Trump.

Bailey had once again run for attorney general, but converted to the race for lieutenant governor. Bailey promised to work with Abrams to cover uninsured adults, improve education and increase public safety. Bailey attacked Hall for the money Hall received from the city of Atlanta after leaving the city council. Despite the city’s ban on hiring former officials for a year, Hall says he did nothing wrong.

Hall also served the last month of the late John Lewis’ term in Congress and enjoys strong notoriety. He says his time on city council prepared him to work with Republicans. Hall focused on economic empowerment, calling on the state to reserve 30% of its contracts for minority and women-owned businesses. Hall said he wants to legalize marijuana and direct the resulting business opportunities to minority communities.

LABOR COMMISSIONER

State Representative William Boddie Jr. and entrepreneur Nicole Horn both focused on overhauling the state’s labor department, plagued by complaints when Georgia’s unemployment rate hit a record high for the COVID-19 pandemic.

Republican incumbent Mark Butler is not seeking re-election, and the GOP has nominated State Senator Bruce Thompson de White.

Both Boddie and Horn agreed that the department needed more money to hire more staff so jobless claimants could get questions answered. Boddie said his legislative experience will help him persuade lawmakers to give the department more money. Horn said her business background would allow her to be an effective manager.

Both blame Republicans for pulling Georgia out of the federal program that extended unemployment benefits months before the federal program expired.

Abrams endorsed Boddie.

INSURANCE COMMISSIONER

Insurance salesman Raphael Baker and 2018 Democratic candidate Janice Laws Robinson are seeking the Democratic nomination for insurance commissioner. The winner will face incumbent Republican John King in November.

Laws Robinson said she would target Georgia’s high auto insurance costs by changing state law to make it easier for the commissioner to block rate increases before they take effect. She said she would also crack down on insurers who take advantage of policy buyers through unfair underwriting practices.

Baker, a Democratic activist, also said he wanted to lower car insurance rates. He said black consumers, in particular, are paying too much and he wants to make insurance practices fairer. Baker also said he would focus on insurance education and safe driving practices.

CONGRESSIONAL REPUBLICANS

Republicans are settling three congressional nominations. In Atlanta’s 10th Congressional District, trucking company owner Mike Collins and former Democrat Vernon Jones are feuding over a bitter runoff. Trump backs Jones, but Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, fresh off a first triumph over Trump-backed David Perdue, has joined other GOP leaders in backing Collins.

In Atlanta’s northern suburbs 6th Ward, ER doctor Rich McCormick is trying to hold off Trump-backed attorney Jake Evans, with each accusing the other of being insufficiently conservative.

The 6th and 10th are both heavily Republican districts.

In Southwest Georgia’s 2nd District, Republicans have high hopes of bringing down Sanford Bishop, an incumbent Democrat of 30 years. The GOP is choosing between former Army officer Jeremy Hunt and real estate developer Chris West in this race.

CONGRESSIONAL DEMOCRATS

In Georgia’s Coastal 1st District, Joyce Marie Griggs is relying on a grassroots approach to persuade Democrats to choose her again to challenge Republican U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter. Griggs, a disbarred attorney, lost to Carter in 2020. Attorney Wade Herring outspent Griggs, telling Democrats he would have a better chance of winning the seat

In the 10th district, Tabitha Johnson-Green is trying to become the Democratic candidate for the third consecutive cycle, after losing to incumbent Jody Hice in 2018 and 2020. Athens real estate agent and musician Jessica Fore is trying to overtake Johnson – Green.

STATE LEGISLATIVE SEATS

One State Senate and 10 seats in the State House will see party nominations settled.

Banker Mike Hodges and former State House member Jeff Jones will vie for the Republican nomination in Senate District 3 on the Georgian coast, covering all of Brantley, Camden, Charlton, Glynn and McIntosh counties and part of Ware County.

Among six Republican and four Democratic contestants in the state House, two incumbents failed to win a majority on May 24 and must win the runoff on Tuesday to maintain their re-election chances. Republican incumbent Sheri Gilligan, a sometimes critic of House Speaker David Ralston, is up against Carter Barrett in Home District 24 in southwest Forsyth County. Democratic incumbent Roger Bruce is in contention with Rashaun Kemp in Home District 61 in southern Fulton and northeast Douglas counties.