June 14th, 2024

Former state Sen. Mike Dugan advances to Republican runoff in Georgia’s 3rd Congressional District

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

ATLANTA (AP) – Georgia’s elections on Tuesday included a state Supreme Court race that saw the incumbent win in a race unusually heated by the 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 were 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.

“Tonight the voters of Georgia voiced their desire for a fair and impartial judiciary,” Pinson said in a statement.

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. Barrow, in a statement after his loss, said he remains committed to his view that the Georgia Constitution protects abortion rights.

“The people who have spoken up on the issue of abortion rights agree with me, and so the issue remains to be decided, first by the Supreme Court and ultimately by the people,” Barrow said in a statement.

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

3RD CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT

Former Donald Trump aide Brian Jack and Mike Dugan, the former Georgia state Senate majority leader, are advancing to a June 18 runoff for the GOP nomination in Georgia’s 3rd Congressional District.

Jack also worked for former U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy. He parlayed Trump’s endorsement and his Washington contacts into a fundraising lead in his first run for office. On the stump, Jack emphasized his close ties to Trump at every opportunity.

Dugan emphasized Republican legislative achievements when he was in the post, including cutting taxes, imposing sharp restrictions on abortion, shortening the period to request an absentee ballot and limiting ballot drop boxes.

The seat is open because Republican U.S. Rep. Drew Ferguson is stepping down after four terms. The Republican nominee will be the favorite in a strongly GOP district south and west of Atlanta in November, facing the winner of the Democratic primary, Maura Keller.

13TH CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT

Scott beat 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

McBath beat two Democratic primary opponents to clinch the nomination in her second new district in two years.

She 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 two more Republicans will go to a runoff hoping to take a shot a Bishop, who was unopposed on the Democratic ballot.

Advancing to the June 18 runoff are Wayne Johnson, of Macon, and Chuck Hand, of Butler. Johnson was an official in the U.S. Education Department under Trump and finished third in the Republican primary two years ago, Hand is a Taylor County Republican Party official and construction superintendent who pleaded guilty to 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.

Johnson and Hand beat 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 chose Darrius Butler to challenge Republican incumbent Austin Scott in south and middle Georgia’s 8th District. In northeast Georgia’s 10th District, they chose Lexy Doherty to challenge incumbent Mike Collins. And Democrat Elizabeth Johnson will face incumbent Republican Rick Allen for a third time in the 12th District around Augusta.

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