Miller, Abel Advance in Democratic Primaries
Georgia PoliticsElection 2018 Primaries

Miller, Abel Advance in Democratic Primaries

Zeldin is defeated for insurance commissioner as Abrams, Cagle and Kemp stay alive in the Georgia governor's race.

Lindy Miller, with the help of her father, Charles Miller, celebrates the election results May 22. (Photo courtesy of the Miller campaign)
Lindy Miller, with the help of her father, Charles Miller, celebrates the election results May 22. (Photo courtesy of the Miller campaign)

One Democrat, Lindy Miller, advanced in her quest to be the first Jewish woman elected statewide in a partisan Georgia race Tuesday, May 22, while another, Cindy Zeldin, saw that same hope end.

Zeldin got about 37 percent of the vote in the Democratic primary for insurance commissioner against Janice Laws, who advanced to face Republican Jim Beck in November to replace the retiring Ralph Hudgens. Beck, whose campaign emphasizes that he is a Christian, easily defeated two others for the GOP nomination.

The atmosphere at The Marlay House in Decatur was celebratory as Congregation Shearith Israel member Miller, part of the 2017 AJT 40 Under 40, comfortably defeated two rivals to win the Democratic nomination for Public Service Commission District 3, a statewide election to represent an area composed of Fulton, DeKalb, Clayton and Rockdale counties.

No Jewish woman has won a partisan statewide election in Georgia.

At the top of the ballot, it was a good night for another woman trying to make history, former House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams, who received more than 76 percent of the vote against Stacey Evans to win the Democratic nomination for governor. Abrams, who has faced criticism about her opposition to Georgia’s anti-BDS legislation in 2016, would be the first woman to hold Georgia’s highest office and the first black woman in the nation elected governor.

She’ll face one of two Republicans already elected statewide, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and Secretary of State Brian Kemp, who advanced to a July 24 runoff in a crowded primary in which no one got even 40 percent. Hunter Hill was third, Clay Tippins fourth, and Michael Williams fifth.

Republicans also will have runoffs for lieutenant governor (David Shafer vs. Geoff Duncan) and secretary of state (Brad Raffensberger vs. David Belle Isle), to face Democrats Sarah Riggs Amico and John Barrow, respectively.

The only statewide Democratic runoff is between Otha Thornton Jr. and Sid Chapman for school superintendent, with the winner facing incumbent Republican Richard Woods.

In the closely watched Democratic primary for the 6th Congressional District, Temple Sinai member Kevin Abel finished second with 30.5 percent to reach a runoff against Lucy McBath, who got 36.3 percent. Former CBS 46 newsman Bobby Kaple was third with 26.3 percent, and Steven Knight Griffin was fourth with 7 percent. The winner faces incumbent Republican Karen Handel in November. Unchallenged in the primary, she got about 1,300 fewer votes than the four Democrats combined.

“I’m so humbled by last night’s results and grateful for the 12,000 people who voted for me because they believe in our campaign’s message that there’s a better way of doing business in Washington and that the people of the 6th District deserve better representation than Karen Handel,” Abel said in a statement issued Wednesday morning.

“Our campaign was fueled by an incredible base of community support, an amazing group of committed, hard-working volunteers, and over a thousand individual contributors, almost 90 percent of whom live in the metro Atlanta area. This race is going to be decided by the voters of the 6th District, not hundreds of thousands of dollars of outside money.”

McBath, who gained a national profile as a gun-control advocate after her son, Jordan Davis, was killed in Jacksonville, Fla., in 2012 by a man angered by loud music, has received donations from across the nation, as did the top Democrat in last year’s special election for the 6th District, Jon Ossoff.

There also will be a Democratic runoff in the 7th Congressional District between Carolyn Bourdeaux and David Kim, with the winner facing Republican incumbent Rob Woodall.

The primary polls closed at 7 p.m. Tuesday, and Miller addressed jubilant supporters at 9:45 as returns showed her winning more than 65 percent of the vote — and every county in the state except Burke and Calhoun — against John Noel and Johnny White.

“We will run through November with all of your support and love and dedication,” Miller said, saluting her campaign staff and volunteers, as well as her husband, Rabbi Jonathan Crane, and their three young sons.

Lindy Miller won every county in Georgia except Burke (in red), where Johnny White won, and Calhoun (gold), where Miller and White tied. (Map via Georgia Secretary of State’s Office)

Each of the five PSC commissioners represents a district but is elected statewide. All are Republicans.

The challenge Miller faces in the Nov. 6 general election was evident as incumbent Chuck Eaton, running unopposed in the Republican primary, garnered almost as many votes as the three Democrats combined in nearly complete, unofficial results — 475,000 to 470,000.

In other races involving Jewish candidates:

  • Rep. Michele Henson, the only Jewish member of the state House, won re-election by getting almost 72 percent of the vote in the Democratic primary against Joscelyn O’Neil. No Republican is running in House District 86.
  • Rep. Deborah Silcox got 72 percent of the vote to defeat Gavi Shapiro for the Republican nomination in House District 52. She’ll face Democrat Shea Roberts in November.
  • Congregation Or Hadash member Ellyn Jeager topped 64 percent in a three-way Democratic race in Senate District 56 in North Fulton for the right to challenge incumbent Republican John Albers in November.
  • Allan Levene got less than 13 percent of the vote in a Republican primary for House District 15 against Matthew Gambill, who has no opposition for the open Cartersville seat in November.
  • Democrat Jen Slipakoff doesn’t yet know who her opponent will be in House District 36 in West Cobb. Ginny Ehrhart, wife of retiring Rep. Earl Ehrhart, will face Thomas Gray in a Republican runoff; each of them got more votes than did Slipakoff, who had no opposition in the primary.
  • The Temple member Bobby Wolf finished third in the race for an open Superior Court seat in Fulton County with 19.6 percent of the vote. Fani Willis (49 percent) will face Kevin Farmer (31.4 percent) in the nonpartisan runoff July 24.
  • Louis Levenson got 26 percent in losing to incumbent Cassandra Kirk in the nonpartisan election for Fulton County’s chief magistrate judge.
  • Julia Bernath was not challenged for her seat on the Fulton County Board of Education.
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