Primaries Almost Done, Georgia Prepares for Main Event

Primaries Almost Done, Georgia Prepares for Main Event

Once unofficial results are certified the menus will be set for June’s runoffs and November’s general election.

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

Georgia state Capitol
Georgia state Capitol

With apologies to ring announcer Michael Buffer: “Let’s get ready to rumble!”

In boxing terms, Georgia’s June 21 primary runoffs will complete the preliminary bouts. Top billing for the main event, the Nov. 8 general election, will go to the contests for governor and U.S. Senator. Further down the card, though, will be a state House race unique in that it features two Jewish candidates, in a state where Jews make up 1.2 percent of the population.

Untold millions of dollars will be wagered (er, donated) by supporters of general election candidates and untold millions of dollars will be spent on various forms of advertising.

Incumbent Republican Gov. Brian Kemp can focus on a November rematch with Democrat Stacey Abrams, whom he narrowly defeated back in 2018.

As this piece was written, precincts and counties statewide had reported vote totals, but some provisional and absentee ballots remained to be tallied.

Incumbent Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, having vanquished a primary challenge by former Sen. David Perdue, will seek to retain his title in a rematch with Democrat Stacey Abrams, whom he narrowly defeated in 2018. If the margin between them again is tight, the presence of Libertarian Shane Hazel on the ballot could push the gubernatorial contest to a Dec. 6 runoff.

Democrat Stacey Abrams

Incumbent Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock, the senior pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, is seeking a full six-year term after serving the final two years in the term of the late Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson. Warnock’s Republican opponent will be Herschel Walker, the former University of Georgia football star. The Libertarian candidate in November will be Chase Oliver.

President Donald Trump endorsed Perdue and warned that Walker’s chances would be hurt if Kemp were the gubernatorial nominee.

Incumbent Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock, the senior pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta.

Kemp and fellow Republicans Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and Attorney General Chris Carr turned back primary challenges by candidates endorsed by Trump. All three disappointing Trump by upholding results of the 2020 Georgia presidential vote, in which the Republican incumbent lost by 12,000 votes to Democratic President Joe Biden.

Herschel Walker

Raffensperger, whose office administers elections, will face the winner of a Democratic runoff between current state Rep. Bee Nguyen and former state Rep. Dee Dawkins-Haigler, as well as Libertarian candidate Ted Metz.
Carr will face Democratic state Sen. Jen Jordan, winner of the Democratic primary, and Libertarian Martin Cowen in November.

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger

As this piece was written, a runoff remained possible in the Republican contest for the lieutenant governor. State Sen. Burton Jones held 50.07 percent of the vote, a hair over the majority needed to avoid a runoff against fellow state Sen. Butch Miller, who received 31.12 percent.

Attorney General Chris Carr

Georgia law requires that the winner receive a majority of the vote. On the Democratic side, Kwanzaa Hall and Charlie Bailey emerged from a nine-candidate field to claim runoff spots. Libertarian Ryan Graham also will be on the November ballot.

Republicans currently hold eight of the 14 seats in Georgia’s congressional delegation and see a ninth within reach after the legally required redistricting after the 2020 Census by the Republican-controlled General Assembly.

The 6th district was redrawn to be Republican-friendly, causing current Democratic Rep. Lucy McBath to jump into the 7th district Democratic primary, where she defeated incumbent Democratic Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux.

In the general election, McBath will face the winner of a Republican runoff between Michael Corbin and Mark Gonsalves. The 6th district Republican nominee will be settled in a runoff between Rich McCormick and Jake Evans, with the winner facing Democrat Bob Christian in the general election.

Democrat Lucy McBath

Crowded fields led to runoffs for both Republicans and Democrats in the 10th district. In the Republican runoff, Mike Collins will face former Democrat Vernon Jones, who was endorsed by Trump. The Democratic nominee will be Tabitha Johnson-Green or Jessica Allison Fore.

In the 14th district, controversial Republican incumbent Marjorie Taylor Greene will seek re-election against Democrat Marcus Flowers.

Dr. Charles Lutin, who is Jewish, assessed his own finish, as fifth out of six candidates in the 14th district Republican primary, as “dismal.” In a newsletter, Lutin said: “In retrospect, I think that the campaign was built on an erroneous premise, that Democratic and Independent voters would vote for me in large numbers because any Democratic candidate has such a difficult electoral path to victory.”

Marjorie Taylor Greene

Two Jewish face-off will be in state House district 51, where Democrat Esther Panitch won her primary contest, while Republican Peter Korman was unopposed.

In state House district 50, another Jewish candidate, long-time Fulton County Republican official Betsy Kramer faces a runoff against Narender Reddy. The winner will oppose current Democratic state Sen. Michelle Au, whose Senate seat was eliminated in redistricting.

Democrat Esther Panitch

Jewish Democrat Jeff Auerbach of Athens ran unopposed in the House district 121 primary, as did his Republican opponent in the general election, Marcus Wiedower.

Much of the redrawn House district 80 has in district 79, represented for the last two terms by Jewish Democrat Mike Wilensky, who dropped out of the primary contest. The general election in that district will pit Democrat Long Tran against Republican Brian Anderson.

Betsy Kramer

In House district 45, Republican Mitchell Kaye, who won a special election in May to represent the district until the General Assembly reconvenes in January, is not seeking a full two-year term. Democrat Dustin McCormick, whom Kaye defeated in the special election runoff, ran unopposed and will face Republican state Rep. Sharon Cooper in the general election.

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