ATLANTA (AP) — Beyond the marquee races for governor and U.S. Senate, several statewide officials battled to keep their offices in primary elections being decided Tuesday in Georgia.
Georgia's incumbent attorney general defeated a fellow Republican endorsed by former President Donald Trump, who also backed a GOP challenger to the state insurance commissioner and picked a favorite in the open race for lieutenant governor. Meanwhile, the Republican state school superintendent was opposed by his predecessor.
A look at some key down-ballot races in the Georgia primaries.
Four Republicans sought their party's nomination for lieutenant governor after the office's current occupant, GOP Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan, passed on seeking another term.
The Republican primary included two current state lawmakers: Senate President Pro Tem Butch Miller and Sen. Burt Jones. Businesswoman Jeanne Seaver and manufacturing plant supervisor Mack McGregor were also on the Republican ballot. Jones, who was endorsed by Trump, called for a statewide investigation into the 2020 election. Trump claimed, without proof, that victory had been stolen from him through widespread voter fraud. Election officials found no evidence of fraud after multiple reviews.
The crowded Democratic field included state Reps. Erick Allen, Derrick Jackson and Renitta Shannon. Also running were 2018 Democratic attorney general nominee Charlie Bailey, former Atlanta City Council member Kwanza Hall, physician Jason Hayes, Air Force veteran Tony Brown, businessman Rashid Malik and Tyrone Brooks Jr., son of a longtime state lawmaker.
Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr bested another Trump-backed candidate who challenged the Republican incumbent over the 2020 election.
Carr defended his office against fellow Republican John Gordon, who said he wants to investigate Trump’s claims of election fraud and that Carr isn’t doing enough to look into them. Carr noted that Republicans lost and there’s no stolen election to investigate.
Democratic state Sen. Jen Jordan will oppose Carr in the fall election. She won the Democratic primary after running to protect consumers and abortion rights. She defeated fellow Democrat Christian Wise Smith, a former Fulton County prosecutor who founded a nonprofit that works to end police brutality.
Insurance Commissioner John King faced his first election challenge since the governor appointed him to the post in 2019. The former Doraville police chief and Army National Guard officer took the job following the indictment of his predecessor, Jim Beck, who was convicted last year of fraud.
Two fellow Republicans were opposing King. Ben Cowart is a real estate developer and Patrick Witt is a legal consultant endorsed by Trump. Witt said he wants to stop “woke insurance mandates” such as requiring coverage for gender reassignment surgery.
The Democratic primary featured three contenders. Janice Laws Robinson ran unsuccessfully for insurance commissioner as the 2018 Democratic nominee. She faced insurance salesman Raphael Baker and attorney Matthew Wilson.
Georgia's Republican state school superintendent was in an election fight with his predecessor, who ran to take the job back.
Incumbent Superintendent Richard Woods was opposed in the GOP primary by John Barge. Their race has been marked by back-and-forth allegations over who performed worst in the job.
Four Democrats were running for a chance to to wrest the superintendent's office from Republican control. All said they want to steer the focus away from culture-war clashes. Jaha Howard serves on the Cobb County school board. Currey Hitchens is an attorney and former teacher. Alisha Thomas Searcy ran unsuccessfully for state superintendent in 2014. And James Morrow is a Clayton County teacher.
Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black wasn't seeking reelection, opting instead to run for U.S. Senate in the Republican primary that includes former football great Herschel Walker.
State Rep. Winfred Dukes left the legislature after 25 years to seek the Democratic nomination for the race to succeed Black. Also running were Fred Swann, the Democrat who unsuccessfully challenged Black in 2018, and Nakita Hemingway, a cut-flower grower and real estate agent.
Republican state Sen. Tyler Harper was unopposed for the GOP nomination.
Three Republicans and five Democrats were on primary ballots for the race to succeed GOP Labor Commissioner Mark Butler, who wasn't seeking reelection. Butler's last term was marked by a scramble to process record unemployment claims resulting from coronavirus shutdowns.
Butler's former deputy labor commissioner, Mike Coan, sought to succeed Butler and received his boss's endorsement. State Sen. Bruce Thompson and businessman Kartik Bhatt rounded out the GOP primary field.
The Democratic contest consisted of state Sen. Lester Jackson, state Rep. William Boddie, attorney and businesswoman Nadia Surrency, entrepreneur Nicole Horn and courier Thomas Dean.
Bynum reported from Savannah, Georgia.