ATLANTA - The most competitive election cycle in decades could confirm Georgia as a swing state or leave Republicans still in control. After weeks of early balloting, voters on Tuesday will finish deciding whether the state awards its electoral votes to Democrat Joe Biden or again supports President Donald Trump.
Also closely contested are two U.S. Senate races and House races in the 6th and 7th Congressional Districts in the Atlanta suburbs.
In one senate race, incumbent Republican David Perdue, a close ally of President Donald Trump, faces Democrat Jon Ossoff in a race characterized by sharp attacks.
Perdue casts Ossoff, who owns a documentary film company and lost a hugely expensive House special election in 2016, as backing a “radical socialist agenda.” Ossoff portrays Perdue as a “corrupt” Washington insider, saying the former CEO improperly sold stocks after a private briefing on the COVID-19 pandemic. Perdue says he was cleared of any wrongdoing. Libertarian Shane Hazel is also running.
The second race is a special election for the remaining two years of a term originally won by now-retired Sen. Johnny Isakson. Kelly Loeffler, a wealthy Republican businesswoman, was appointed to the seat, and she and her husband have spent tens of millions of dollars trying to defend it in a field of 20 candidates. Other top contenders include Republican U.S. Rep. Doug Collins and Democrat Raphael Warnock.
Collins is a four-term congressman from northeast Georgia and staunch defender of President Donald Trump. Warnock is pastor of the Atlanta church where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. preached and is trying to become Georgia’s first Black U.S. senator.
In either Senate race, if no candidate wins more than 50% of the vote, a runoff election will be held Jan 5. between the top two finishers.
Democrat Nikema Williams seeks to succeed John Lewis in the Atlanta-centered 5th District and is facing Republican Angela Stanton-King. Williams, a state senator and chair of the Georgia Democratic Party, wants to use federal power to provide more subsidized health care and guarantee voting rights. The 43-year-old Stanton-King, who was pardoned by the president, says Trump is delivering economically for African Americans.
Democrat Lucy McBath is vying for a second term in Georgia’s 6th District and is running against Republican Karen Handel, whom McBath unseated in 2018. The race in Atlanta’s northern suburbs centers around arguments about health care, abortion, support for police and gun control. McBath crafts an image as a bipartisan worker, but Handel says she’s too liberal. McBath is hitting Handel over health care and Handel’s opposition to abortion rights. Handel says McBath’s advocacy for gun control makes her a “single-issue” candidate and says she’s out of touch with voters.
Republican Rich McCormick seeks to hold on to suburban Atlanta’s 7th District for his party as Democrat Carolyn Bourdeaux tries to win a district she lost by fewer than 500 votes to retiring GOP Rep. Rob Woodall in 2018. McCormick, an emergency room physician, touts empowering business owners and individuals. Bourdeaux, a public policy professor, says government needs to do more to provide access to health care and solve people’s problems. The fast-diversifying district includes parts of Gwinnett and Forsyth counties and is one of the most closely watched races nationwide.
Republican Andrew Clyde is heavily favored against Democrat Devin Pandy in northeast Georgia. Clyde touts his support of gun rights and his success in getting a law changed after the IRS seized $940,000 from him in 2013. Pandy pledges a bipartisan little-guy approach, saying his priorities include better access to health care, a higher minimum wage and an end to tariffs. Clyde is far outspending Pandy, with the gun dealer loaning his campaign more than $1.4 million.
Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene is unopposed for election in northwest Georgia’s 14th Congressional District after Democratic challenger Kevin Van Ausdal dropped out and left the state. Greene has expressed racist views and support for QAnon conspiracy theories. She’s been supported by President Donald Trump, who called her a “future Republican Star.” Greene has alleged an “Islamic invasion” of government offices and accused Jewish billionaire George Soros of collaborating with Nazis.
OTHER CONGRESSIONAL RACES
Republican Buddy Carter is vying for a fourth term in Congress, opposed by Joyce Marie Griggs in the coastal 1st District. Carter says he would focus on economic recovery. Griggs says it’s key to keep the Affordable Care Act in place, and she wants more stimulus money for people because of COVID-19.
Democratic incumbent Sanford Bishop is seeking a 15th term in southwest Georgia’s 2nd Congressional District against Republican Don Cole. Bishop campaigns as a moderate focused on development, also calling for a stronger response to COVID-19. Cole says he’ll focus on economic development.
Incumbent Republican Drew Ferguson faces Democrat Val Almonord while seeking his third term in western Georgia’s 3rd District. Ferguson has touted work to increase internet access and improve business competitiveness. Almonord argues for expanding health care and more COVID-19 relief.
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Incumbent Democrat Hank Johnson faces Republican Johsie Cruz Ezammudeen, and is hoping for a seventh term representing the 4th District in Atlanta’s eastern suburbs. Johnson touts criminal justice reform and improving internet access. Cruz supports Trump and opposes abortion.
Republican Austin Scott seeks a sixth term against Democrat Lindsey Holliday and Green Party member Jimmy Cooper in the 8th District. Scott supports agriculture, rural hospitals and military bases. Holliday argues Trump endangers democracy and wants a stronger COVID-19 response.
Incumbent Republican Jody Hice is running for a fourth term in eastern Georgia’s 9th Congressional District. He’s facing Democrat Tabitha Johnson-Green for the second straight time. Hice defends Trump, supports police and opposes abortion. Johnson-Green emphasizes access to health care.
Republican Barry Loudermilk faces Democrat Dana Barrett in the 11th Congressional District in the northwest Atlanta suburbs. Loudermilk is vying for a fourth term focusing on economic recovery, low taxes and less regulation. Barrett emphasizes health care and equal economic opportunity.
Republican Rick Allen seeks a fourth term against Democrat Liz Johnson in eastern Georgia’s 12th Congressional District. Allen has opposed expanded federal health coverage and social service programs. Johnson ran unsuccessfully for state insurance commissioner in 2014.
Incumbent Democrat David Scott faces Republican Becky Hites to represent Georgia’s 13th Congressional District in Atlanta’s southern suburbs. Scott advocates for more money for COVID-19 relief and gun control. Hites says she will work to improve the district’s economy.
Democrats seek further gains in the Georgia General Assembly. They’re focusing on the House of Representatives, where Republicans hold a 105-75 majority but Democrats gained 11 seats in 2018. A majority would give Democrats a voice in drawing Georgia’s voting districts for the next 10 years and enhanced bargaining power on priorities including Medicaid expansion.
PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION
Incumbent Republican Jason Shaw is being challenged by Democrat Robert Bryant and Libertarian Elizabeth Melton. Republican Lauren “Bubba” McDonald’s reelection is challenged by Democrat Daniel Blackman and Libertarian Nathan Wilson. Winners must reckon with the impact of Georgia Power Co.’s $25 billion nuclear plant on power bills. The incumbents say they’re balancing consumer and utility needs, but the challengers say the balance is too tilted toward utilities.
Voters statewide will decide three ballot questions. State constitutional Amendment 1 would let lawmakers earmark funds for certain programs. Amendment 2 would let people sue governments for illegal acts, but judges couldn’t enter an injunction ordering a government to do something or order a government to pay money. Referendum A would exempt from taxes property owned by charitable groups such as Habitat for Humanity that sell homes to individuals through no-interest loans.