ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia's rules might not be changing after all for a special U.S. Senate election featuring appointed incumbent Kelly Loeffler, U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, the Rev. Raphael Warnock and others.
Current law holds that all candidates, Republican and Democrat, would run against each other on the November ballot, with a January runoff if no one wins a majority.
House Bill 757 would change Georgia law to require primary elections to determine each party's nominees ahead of the special election. On Thursday, the rules committee decided it needs more work.
The measure backed by House Speaker David Ralston, a Collins ally, would help the congressman by forcing Loeffler into a May primary and shortening her time to build a record to run on. Gov. Brian Kemp, who appointed Loeffler, has threatened to veto the measure.
Many Democrats also favor a primary. It could allow Warnock to consolidate the support of Democratic voters and cut the chance of a lower-turnout January runoff where Democrats might be at a disadvantage.
Governmental Affairs Chairman Shaw Blackmon, a Republican from Bonaire, said after Thursday's vote that lawmakers would like to look at including primaries for legislative special elections, which aren't currently covered, as well as to get input from Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. Blackmon said he wasn't sure when or if the bill might re-emerge.