Georgia runoffs to decide secretary of state, other nominees

Georgia Democrats will choose their nominee for secretary of state Tuesday in primary runoff elections, voting on a position that assumed new importance after former President Donald Trump cast doubt on Georgia’s 2020 election results by making false claims of widespread voter fraud.

That’s one of four statewide runoffs — along with lieutenant governor, labor commissioner and insurance commissioner — where Democrats will be selecting nominees. Republicans will be voting in three congressional races, while Democrats have a pair of congressional runoffs.

State Rep. Bee Nguyen and former state Rep. Dee Dawkins-Haigler are vying for the chance to challenge incumbent Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in the fall. Trump targeted Raffensperger for failing to overturn his narrow loss in the state. Raffensperger — who won the praise of some Democrats for refusing to bend to pressure from the former president — dispatched a challenge from a Trump-endorsed primary challenger without being forced into a runoff.

Nguyen and Dawkins-Haigler agree on their visions for the office: increase voter education and work more closely with local election boards to ensure universal access to free, fair and secure elections. But they say Raffensperger is no election hero, targeting his endorsement of a sweeping election overhaul passed last year by Republican state lawmakers.

Tuesday’s races could be won or lost by small margins as turnout is expected to be very low. In contrast to the May 24 primary, which saw record early voting numbers, fewer than 165,000 people had voted early in person or by mail as of Monday. That includes about 100,000 Democrats and 60,000 Republicans

The candidates facing off in the other statewide Democratic races are Charlie Bailey and Kwanza Hall for lieutenant governor, William Boddie and Nicole Horn for labor commissioner, and Janice Laws Robinson and Raphael Baker for insurance commissioner.

Republicans are settling four congressional nominations, two of which fall in the heavily GOP-friendly 6th and 10th districts.

In the 10th Congressional District east of Atlanta, trucking company owner Mike Collins and former Democrat Vernon Jones are vying in a bitter runoff. Trump backs Jones, but Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, fresh off a primary triumph over Trump-backed David Perdue, has joined other GOP officeholders in backing Collins.

In the 6th District in Atlanta’s northern suburbs, emergency room physician Rich McCormick is trying to hold off Trump-backed lawyer Jake Evans. That race has revolved around accusations by each candidate that the other is insufficiently conservative.

Republicans have high hopes of knocking off 30-year Democratic incumbent Sanford Bishop in southwest Georgia’s 2nd District. The GOP is choosing between former Army officer Jeremy Hunt and real estate developer Chris West in that race.

Democrats are settling runoffs in two districts. In the coastal 1st District, Wade Herring is trying to keep Joyce Marie Griggs from again being the party’s nominee against incumbent Republican Buddy Carter. In the 10th District, Jessica Fore is running against Tabitha Johnson-Green, who was the Democratic nominee in the previous configuration of the district in 2018 and 2020.

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