Open statewide seats, House races on Georgia midterm ballot
SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — While the heated governor’s race between Democrat Stacey Abrams and Republican Brian Kemp has grabbed most of the attention, Georgia voters have several other key races to settle down the ballot Tuesday.
Democrats, shut out of holding any statewide office in Georgia since 2010, hope enthusiasm for Abrams’ campaign will help them win back open seats for lieutenant governor, secretary of state and insurance commissioner.
Meanwhile, two Republican members of Congress face strong Democratic challengers in metro Atlanta districts long considered safe for the GOP. And Republican incumbents on the utility-regulating Public Service Commission are running amid an outcry over spiraling costs for the Plant Vogtle nuclear plant expansion.
Here’s a look at some of the high-profile contests beyond the gubernatorial battle.
The election-season scramble to replace term-limited GOP Gov. Nathan Deal caused two fellow Republicans — Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and Kemp, Georgia’s secretary of state — to give up their seats for a shot at the governor’s office.
Republican Geoff Duncan, a former state lawmaker, faced Democratic businesswoman Sarah Riggs Amico in the race for lieutenant governor. Duncan would be only the second Republican to hold the job since it debuted on the ballot in 1946. Democrats last won the No. 2 statewide office in 2002.
Former Democratic congressman John Barrow, who lost his House seat in 2014, is seeking a comeback in the race for secretary of state. Republican state Rep. Brad Raffensperger hopes to keep the office of Georgia’s elections chief in GOP hands. Libertarian Smythe Duval is also on the ballot.
GOP Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens’ decision to step down created yet another vacancy. Republican Jim Black, Hudgens’ former chief of staff, is running to succeed his old boss against Democratic insurance agent Janice Laws. Also in the race is Libertarian Donnie Foster.
OTHER STATEWIDE SHOWDOWNS
Republican Attorney General Chris Carr faces his first election test since the governor appointed him two years ago to fill the unexpired term of his predecessor, Sam Olens. Carr’s opponent, Democrat Charlie Bailey, is a former Fulton County prosecutor who has argued lacks the legal experience the job demands.
GOP state School Superintendent Richard Woods is seeking a second term against Democrat Otha Thornton Jr., who was the first black man to serve as president of the National PTA.
Republican Labor Commissioner Mark Butler is being challenged by Democrat Richard Keatley, a former professor of French and Italian. And Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black faced Democratic software developer Fred Swann.
Two congressional in metro Atlanta are being closely watched as Democrats try to unseat two Republican House members in suburban districts known to favor the GOP. Democrats hope that shifting demographics and voters disaffected with Donald Trump will give them an opening.
Republican Rep. Karen Handel faces Democratic gun-control activist Lucy McBath, whose teenage son was fatally shot six years ago in Florida, in the 6th District north of Atlanta. It’s Handel’s second race since last year, when she won the House seat in a grueling special election against Democrat Jon Ossoff, who spent $30 million on the race.
In the neighboring 7th District, GOP Rep. Rob Woodall has been outpaced in fundraising by Democrat Carolyn Bourdeaux, a college professor at Georgia State University. Bourdeaux raised more than $1.9 million, nearly double Woodall’s total. However, the four-term Republican congressman has won each of his prior elections with no less than 60 percent of the vote.
FROM THE JAILHOUSE TO THE U.S. HOUSE?
GOP Rep. Tom Graves already has a congressional district that strongly favors Republican candidates. This year, his Democratic opponent has been further handicapped by having to campaign from jail.
Democrat Steve Foster remains behind bars after a judge sentenced him to six months in jail for drunken driving in August. Still, Foster refused to quit the 14th District race in northwest Georgia. The misdemeanor DUI conviction doesn’t disqualify him from the ballot.
Georgia Democrats are also challenging six more GOP congressmen: Reps. Buddy Carter, Drew Ferguson, Doug Collins, Jody Hice, Barry Loudermilk,and Rick Allen. Democratic Reps. Sanford Bishop, Hank Johnson and David Scott have GOP opponents.
PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION
Two Republican members of Georgia’s utility-regulating Public Service Commission are defending their seats amid criticism over escalating costs for building two new nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle near Augusta.
GOP incumbent Chuck Eaton faces Democrat Lindy Miller and Libertarian Ryan Graham for the commission’s District 3 seat in metro Atlanta. And Republican commissioner Pridemore is being challenged by Democrat Dawn Randolph Libertarian John Turpish for the PSC’s District 5 seat in western Georgia.
The PSC has come under fire for its December vote authorizing construction to continue at Plant Vogtle, a decision made before Pridemore was appointed in February. The project is years behind schedule and billions of dollars over budget, raising concerns that ratepayers will get saddled with the added cost.
For AP’s complete coverage of the U.S. midterm elections: http://apne.ws/APPolitics