Congressional candidates jump onto ballot as qualifying begins for 2024 Georgia races

Georgia's 2024 elections kicked into high gear Monday with the start of qualifying for state and federal offices. 

Dozens of candidates from the Republican and Democratic parties streamed to the state Capitol to sign papers and pay their qualifying fees, while those running for nonpartisan posts and as independents lined up across the street to qualify with the secretary of state's office. Candidates have until noon Friday to sign up.

While the presidential contest will top Georgia's November ballots, all 14 of the state's congressional seats, plus its 56 state Senate seats and 180 state House seats are also up for grabs. Parties will decide their nominees in primaries on May 21, the same day Georgia will elect judges and other nonpartisan offices. Runoffs will be held on June 18 for any offices in which a candidate doesn't win a majority on May 21.

Because of court-ordered redistricting, all the members of Congress whose districts touch metro Atlanta have at least some new territory, as do many state Senate districts in metro Atlanta and state House districts in metro Atlanta and middle Georgia. A judge ruled those lines discriminated against Black voters, prompting another round of redistricting that is likely to preserve Republican majorities.

Of the 13 congressional incumbents seeking reelection, 12 quickly qualified on Monday. They included all five Democratic U.S. representatives - the 2nd Congressional District's Sanford Bishop, the 4th District's Hank Johnson, the 5th District's Nikema Williams, the 6th District's Lucy McBath, and the 13th District's David Scott. Also qualifying were seven of the eight Republican incumbents seeking election: the 1st District's Buddy Carter, the 5th District's Andrew Clyde, the 7th District's Rich McCormick, the 8th District's Austin Scott, the 11th District's Barry Loudermilk, the 12th District's Rick Allen and the 14th District's Marjorie Taylor Greene.

Georgia's 2024 presidential election is likely to be close again. But because of how Republicans drew the congressional districts, none are expected to produce competitive races in November. 

That means primaries are likely to determine the winners. With Republican U.S. Rep. Drew Ferguson, who has represented western Georgia's 3rd District for four terms, not running for reelection, GOP candidates are scrambling to replace him.

Four qualified on Monday, including former state Sens. Mike Crane of Franklin and Mike Dugan of Carrollton, former state Rep. Philip Singleton of Sharpsburg, and former police officer and purchasing manager Jim Bennett of Bowdon. Others are expected to qualify in coming days.

Singleton is touting his record as an outspoken conservative who nettled House leadership during his time in the state legislature and his work as McCormick's congressional chief of staff.

"Hopes and dreams don't achieve anything in our in our form of government," he said. "You have to we have to do the work."

Dugan points to his military, business, and legislative background.

"It's a job interview," he said. "I'm asking the constituents of the 3rd District to hire me."

 McBath is running in her third drastically different district in six years, covering parts of Cobb, Douglas, Fulton and Fayette counties. Republicans also targeted her former district when they redrew lines in 2021. She said she will continue to emphasize lowering drug prices, health care, worker training and gun control. 

"We keep having these discussions over and over again, but I'm happy to represent any constituent," McBath said of her redrawn district. "I'm happy to continue to do the work. And I have decided as I have in every election, I will not let the extremist Republicans determine when my work in Congress is done. I will let the people decide."

Cobb County Commissioner Jerica Richardson and state Rep. Mandisha Thomas of South Fulton are running against McBath in the Democratic primary.

Scott's district is sharply different as well, now covering Rockdale County and parts of Clayton, Newton, and Gwinnett counties. He's seeking his 12th term in Congress after facing questions about his health. On Monday, Scott said he wanted to serve another term so he could bolster funding for historically Black agricultural colleges including Georgia's Fort Valley State University, and to do more for housing assistance.

"Thank God I'm in good health. moving and doing the people's work," Scott said.

Marcus Flowers, who made an unsuccessful bid against Marjorie Taylor Greene in northwest Georgia's 14th District, is running against Scott in the Democratic primary.

Georgia will also have at least one contested state Supreme Court race. Justice Andrew Pinson, elevated by Republican Gov. Brian Kemp to the high court in 2022 from the state Court of Appeals, picked up a challenge from former Democratic U.S. Rep John Barrow. Judicial races are nonpartisan.