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Key Takeaways From Georgia's Primary Election

  • News
  • May 23, 2018

Democrats will try to unite around their candidate for governor, Republicans are heading toward a runoff, and eight incumbent lawmakers were defeated after the final results came in for yesterday’s primary election in Georgia. More than 1.1 million Georgians headed to the polls to vote for candidates vying for their party’s nomination for statewide elected constitutional officers, members of Congress, state lawmakers, county commissioners, and regulators. In the governor’s race, former state House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams easily won the Democratic nomination, besting former House member Stacey Evans by a 3-1 margin. Abrams would be the first female African-American governor in the U.S. if she wins this November.

On the Republican side, Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle will face Secretary of State Brian Kemp in a July runoff. Cagle garnered 39 percent of the vote in the crowded five-candidate primary. Kemp secured the runoff spot by adopting an unconventional conservative message in the closing weeks of the campaign, ultimately winning 25 percent of the vote. Former state Senators Hunter Hill and Michael Williams secured 18 and 4 percent, respectively. Businessman and outsider Clay Tippins placed fourth with 12 percent in his first bid for public office.

During the next nine weeks, Cagle will benefit from a money advantage as he looks to secure metro Atlanta voters. Kemp will try to re-engage rural voters and make the case Cagle is too tied to special interests. Cagle has the support of more than 500 elected officials statewide.

Another big story from yesterday is eight incumbent lawmakers losing their primaries, including Darrel Ealum (D-Albany), Rep. Jason Spencer (R-Woodbine), and Sen. Curt Thompson from (D-Tucker). The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has a good breakdown of the ousters.

In the lieutenant governor’s race, former Senate President Pro Tempore David Shafer was the top vote-getter in the Republican primary. Shafer ran a traditional Republican campaign packed with GOP endorsements. He will face former state lawmaker Geoff Duncan. Duncan ran as a conservative outsider compared to Shafer’s long track record in the Senate as a GOP operative in the ’90s. Former state Senator Rick Jeffares narrowly missed a runoff – by only 2 percentage points.

Former Alpharetta Mayor David Belle Isle will face state Rep. Brad Raffensperger in the runoff for secretary of state. The winner will face former Congressman John Barrow in November.

In a three-way race for insurance commissioner, former Department of Insurance aide Jim Beck won his party’s nomination with more than 60 percent of the vote. Beck will face Democratic nominee Janice Laws in November.

Republican incumbent School Superintendent Richard Woods bettered former Superintendent John Barge, who was trying to get his old job back after his unsuccessful gubernatorial bid in 2014.

Republican incumbents Attorney General Chris Carr, Labor Commissioner Mark Butler, and Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black ran unopposed in the primary but will face opposition in November. Lastly, GOP insider and former candidate for Congress Tricia Pridemore was elected to the Public Service Commission after being appointed earlier this year by Governor Nathan Deal.

Please visit the Georgia secretary of state’s website to review the final primary results. The GOP runoff election is Tuesday, July 24, and the general election is Tuesday, November 7.

For more information, please contact me or my colleague Amy Odom at Parker Poe Consulting’s Atlanta office.