June 24th, 2024

Democrat David Scott beats primary challengers as he seeks 13th term in Congress in Georgia district

By Jeff Amy, The Associated Press on May 21, 2024.

ATLANTA (AP) – Georgia’s elections on Tuesday include a state Supreme Court race that’s grown unusually heated by the sleepy standards of the state’s nonpartisan judicial elections, as well as a five-way GOP primary for an open seat in the strongly Republican 3rd Congressional District south and west of Atlanta.

Two Democratic congressional incumbents – U.S. Reps. David Scott and Lucy McBath – defeated primary challengers in metro Atlanta districts that were redrawn by Republicans after redistricting lawsuits.

Parties are also choosing their nominees for other congressional and state legislative seats and local offices including sheriffs, district attorneys and county commissioners.

Runoffs will be held June 18 in races where candidates don’t win a majority.

Here’s a look at key races:

STATE SUPREME COURT

Georgia state Supreme Court Justice Andrew Pinson has defeated a challenge from former U.S. Rep. John Barrow in the general election for judicial candidates, who run without party labels.

The 37-year-old Pinson wins a six-year term after Gov. Brian Kemp appointed him to the nine-member court in 2022. The 69-year-old Barrow made support for abortion rights central to his campaign. Pinson said discussing issues would weaken confidence that he could judge fairly, and he warned of making judicial campaigns too political.

Kemp and other conservatives intervened to aid Pinson in a race that grew heated by the usually sleepy standards of Georgia’s judicial elections. Barrow unsuccessfully sued in federal court, saying a state judicial agency was violating his free-speech rights. The agency warned Barrow his claim that Georgians have a right to abortion under the state constitution might be violating judicial ethics.

Justices Michael Boggs, John Ellington and Nels Peterson are unopposed. Six judges on the Georgia Court of Appeals are also unopposed, while Jeff Davis and Tabitha Ponder are contending for an open seat on the court.

3RD CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT

Five Republicans are seeking their party’s nomination to succeed Republican U.S. Rep. Drew Ferguson, who is stepping down after four terms.

Former President Donald Trump has endorsed his onetime aide Brian Jack for the seat. Jack, who later worked for then-U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, parlayed Trump’s endorsement and his Washington contacts into a fundraising lead in his first run for office.

Also seeking the nomination are former state Sens. Mike Crane and Mike Dugan, former state Rep. Philip Singleton and party activist Jim Bennett. Dugan emphasized his successes as state Senate majority leader, while Crane highlighted his religious beliefs and opposition to abortion. Singleton promised not to compromise conservative principles.

The Republican nominee will be the favorite in a strongly Republican district that runs along the Alabama border from Carrollton to Columbus and swings east into the Atlanta suburbs around Peachtree City and Fayetteville.

On the Democratic side, Val Almonord and Maura Keller are seeking their party’s nomination.

13TH CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT

U.S. Rep. David Scott has beaten six Democratic primary opponents to advance to the general election as he seeks a 12th congressional term in Georgia’s 13th Congressional District that was significantly reconfigured in a new map.

Challengers attacked the 78-year-old Scott as too old and out of touch, but those claims never gained traction with voters. Scott said in March that he’s seeking another term to enhance funding for historically Black colleges such as Fort Valley State University, and to provide more assistance to struggling homeowners.

Among Scott’s primary opponents were Marcus Flowers, who raised $17 million to challenge Republican U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene in another district in 2022, and former East Point City Councilmember Karen René. Scott will face the winner of the Republican primary, Jonathan Chavez, in November.

6TH CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT

U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath has beaten two Democratic primary opponents to clinch the nomination in her second new district in two years.

McBath overcame Cobb County Commissioner Jerica Richardson and state Rep. Mandisha Thomas, who both claimed they could better represent the new 6th District. Republican lawmakers drew the district, which wraps around the west side of metro Atlanta, after a court ordered new maps to remedy discrimination against Black voters.

Republican Jeff Criswell will oppose her in November.

McBath was first elected in 2018 in a district that covered Atlanta’s inner northern suburbs. After a new map in 2022 added more Republicans to that district, McBath jumped to a district that included parts of Gwinnett and Fulton counties. There, she defeated fellow Democratic incumbent Carolyn Bourdeaux in a primary.

McBath, whose son was shot to death, has made gun control and reducing gun violence her primary focus. She also says she wants to work on reducing health care disparities in another term.

“Twice, extremist Georgia Republicans tried to bend the rules and draw me out of Congress,” McBath said in a statement. “Twice, Georgians have stood with me and resoundingly voted to send me back to Congress.”

2ND CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT

Two years ago, Republicans had hoped they had a chance to defeat 16-term Democratic incumbent Sanford Bishop Jr. in southwest Georgia’s 2nd District. But Bishop won that election easily. Now four more Republicans are lining up to take a shot a Bishop, who is unopposed on the Democratic ballot.

Wayne Johnson, of Macon, who was an official in the U.S. Education Department under Trump, finished third in the Republican primary two years ago and is again seeking the nomination. Among other candidates is Chuck Hand, a Taylor County Republican Party official and construction superintendent who pleaded guilty a misdemeanor for illegally demonstrating in the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. He was sentenced to 20 days in federal prison and six months of probation. Also running is Michael Nixon, of Thomasville, a hospital purchasing director and Air Force veteran, and Regina “Reggie” Liparoto, of Columbus, a longtime conservative activist.

14TH CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT

Two Democrats in northwest Georgia’s 14th District will compete in a runoff for the right to challenge Republican incumbent Marjorie Taylor Greene, who has no GOP opposition.

Advancing to the runoff are consultant Clarence Blalock, of Hiram, and retired Army general Shawn Harris, of Cedartown. They beat sales manager Deric Houston, of Dallas, and business manager Joseph Leigh, of Rossville. Harris has by far raised the most money of the four.

For most candidates, their top issue is their distaste for Greene, a top ally of Trump who recently failed in an effort to oust House Speaker Mike Johnson. The winner will have an uphill fight in a heavily Republican district. Two years ago, Democrat Marcus Flowers raised more than $16 million in his challenge to Greene but still lost badly.

OTHER RACES

Republican U.S. Rep. Barry Loudermilk, the only other incumbent facing a primary challenge, beat retired banker and longtime Republican activist Lori Marie Pesta and retired airline pilot Mike Pons in the 11th Congressional District northwest of Atlanta. Kate Stamper won the Democratic nomination against Antonio Daza.

Democrats are also choosing nominees to challenge Republican incumbents in south and middle Georgia’s 8th District, northeast Georgia’s 10th District and in the 12th District around Augusta.

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