Hot-Button Issues Highlight Attorney General Race
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Hot-Button Issues Highlight Attorney General Race

Voting rights, guns, crime, and abortion are among the hot button issues on the docket.

Dave Schechter is a veteran journalist whose career includes writing and producing reports from Israel and elsewhere in the Middle East.

(Clockwise) Attorney General Chris Carr; Martin Cowan; Jen Jordan
(Clockwise) Attorney General Chris Carr; Martin Cowan; Jen Jordan

Republican Attorney General Chris Carr is being challenged by Democratic state Sen. Jen Jordan and Libertarian Martin Cowen — all three University of Georgia Law School graduates — in a contest that has centered on hot-button issues.

A survey of 1,076 likely voters, conducted for 11Alive News between Sept. 30 to Oct. 4, found Carr with 40 percent, Jordan 36 percent, “other” with 4 percent, and 20 percent undecided. A runoff, if necessary, would be held Dec. 6.

Attorney General Chris Carr

The ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that abortion is not a right protected under the Constitution added one more issue to a list that already included changes made to the state’s voting rules and procedures, laws permitting concealed and open carry of guns, crime, and the “heartbeat” abortion law.

Carr was appointed to the post in 2016 by then-Gov. Nathan Deal and won a full four-year term in 2018. To a lesser degree than fellow Republicans Gov. Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, Carr drew the ire of former President Donald Trump for not intervening to reverse the results of Georgia’s 2020 presidential vote, which went to Democrat Joe Biden by a margin of about 12,000 votes. Carr handily defeated a Trump-backed candidate in the Republican primary.

As attorney general, Carr has backed the state’s positions on the voting, abortion, and gun laws, as well as policies that kept Georgia’s economy open during the COVID-19 pandemic. He has touted efforts to combat fraud, the creation of a human trafficking prosecution unit, and a gang prosecution unit that recently issued indictments against 13 people.

Jen Jordan

Jordan, who easily won the Democratic primary, lists as her campaign priorities protecting voting rights, ensuring clean air and water, access to health care and insurance industry accountability, and stopping predatory lending practices. Jordan delivered an emotional speech, talking about her miscarriages, as she denounced the “heartbeat” bill during debate in the Republican-controlled legislature in 2019. That measure cuts off access to abortion after the sixth week of pregnancy, when women may not be aware that they are pregnant.

She has warned that under Georgia law — which assigns personhood status to a fetus — women could be prosecuted for having an abortion. Carr has maintained that the law is aimed at doctors, not patients. “There is absolutely nothing in the statute that would say a pregnant woman would be prosecuted,” he said during an Oct. 18 debate sponsored by the Atlanta Press Club.

Jordan has said that she would not spend state funds to prosecute under that law. “I would challenge it in court,” Jordan said during the debate. “My primary obligation is to enforce the state’s constitution —when there is a conflict between the two, the constitution controls.”

Martin Cowen

Carr has ridiculed Jordan’s position, saying that the attorney general cannot pick and choose which laws to follow. “The attorney general cannot sue the state of Georgia. It defends the state of Georgia,” Carr said during the debate.

Cowen, too, has said he would not prosecute cases under the abortion law. The Libertarian supports eliminating qualified immunity for government employees, including police officers, and opposes the use of so-called “no knock” warrants. The veteran attorney sued the state in 2017 over rules that make it difficult for a third-party candidate to receive ballot recognition in U.S. House races.

According to the most recent data from the Georgia Campaign Finance Commission, Carr reported receiving $4.3 million in campaign contributions, expenditures totaling $3.2 million, and had $1.1 million cash available. Jordan reported raising more than $3.1 million, spending nearly $1.7 million, and having $1.4 million available. Cowen reported raising $2,800, spending $2,500, leaving $289 in cash available.

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