July 19th, 2024

Wayne Johnson beats Jan. 6 offender Chuck Hand for GOP nomination in Georgia congressional district

By Jeff Amy, The Associated Press on June 18, 2024.

ATLANTA (AP) – Georgia Republicans voted to settle two congressional nominations in Tuesday runoffs, with a former federal official defeating a man who was convicted for illegally demonstrating inside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, and a former Donald Trump aide bidding for an open seat in another district.

Meanwhile Democrats chose their candidate to run against Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene in the November general election. The two parties were also picking nominees in eight state legislative runoffs where no one won a majority in the May 21 primaries.

Turnout was likely to be low, and some congressional nominees could be chosen by a tiny fraction of voters, especially in the the 2nd and 14th districts.

Here’s a look at the races:

2nd District

Former U.S. Education Department official Wayne Johnson has beaten convicted Jan. 6 offender Chuck Hand for the Republican nomination in Georgia’s 2nd Congressional District in Tuesday’s runoff election.

Johnson will challenge 16-term Democratic incumbent Rep. Sanford Bishop in the district, which sprawls across 30 counties in southwest Georgia, stretching into Columbus and Macon. The district has delivered comfortable Democratic majorities in recent years.

Johnson has argued that Bishop should share blame for inflation and emphasized his business experience.

Johnson was the top vote-getter in the four-way May 21 primary, but the second-place finisher Hand drew notice after criticizing Johnson and then walking out of a televised debate.

A construction superintendent, Hand is one of at least four people convicted of Jan. 6 crimes who have run for Congress this year as Republicans. He was sentenced to 20 days in federal prison and six months of probation after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor offense.

Hand campaigned on rallying Black and white working-class voters under Trump’s banner to improve economic conditions in one of Georgia’s poorest regions.

Johnson called Hand unqualified, saying he was better suited to attract some of the Democrats who have long supported Bishop, who are largely Black.

3rd District

Republican Brian Jack has argued that the voters of the 3rd District should elect “somebody President Trump trusts to be an America First ally.”

His opponent, former state Senate Majority Leader Mike Dugan, has contended that Jack’s status as a Washington insider is a liability, saying voters instead prefer his “Georgia values.”

The winner will be the favorite to succeed Republican Rep Drew Ferguson, who is stepping down after four terms.

Jack, 36, is a Peachtree City native who worked on Trump’s 2016 campaign and served four years as White House political director. He later worked for then-House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.

That experience won him Trump’s endorsement and a fundraising haul from top Republicans.

Dugan, a 60-year-old contractor and retired Army officer, touts his experience as a decision maker and coalition builder. He has attacked Jack as a “D.C. insider.”

The 3rd District includes some of Atlanta’s southern and western suburbs, running south to Columbus, with Republicans typically winning about two-thirds of the vote.

Democrat Maura Keller awaits the GOP nominee in November.

Jack won nearly 47% of the vote in May and was the top vote-getter in 14 of 15 counties. Dugan got almost 25%, carrying his home county of Carroll.

The third- and fourth-place finishers both endorsed Jack.

Other races

In the Democratic contest to challenge Greene in the 14th District, Shawn Harris, a retired Army general and rancher, bested Clarence Blalock, a 2021 Atlanta City Council candidate. Blalock barely led Harris in the four-way primary. The winner faces an uphill fight in the strongly Republican district.

Nominees in eight state legislative seats are being settled in runoffs. Republican incumbent Steven Sainz is trying to hold on to his House District 180 seat in Camden and Glynn counties against challenger Glenn Cook.

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