ATLANTA — In less than two weeks, Georgia begins an election year that will likely spotlight it as one of several battleground states in the country.
Early voting starts May 2 for the May 24 General Election Primary, which has many candidates seeking several top seats across the state. From the governor’s office, lieutenant governor and secretary of state, voters have plenty of choices.
The Republican primary winner faces Democrat Stacey Abrams in November. Abrams is in her second run for governor and is unopposed in the Democrat primary.
The GOP primary has shaped up into a heated battle between incumbent Gov. Brian Kemp and challenger David Perdue, a former U.S. senator backed by former President Donald Trump.
Kemp gained renewed attention last week when he signed “constitutional carry” allowing Georgians to carry a gun without a permit. He campaigned on the measure in 2018 and Perdue said the move was a political ploy.
“I’m glad this got done,” Perdue said in a statement following Kemp’s signature of the new law. “The fact is though, Brian Kemp ran on this issue in 2018. It shouldn’t have taken four years and a primary challenge for him to finally make it a priority.”
Kemp said he didn’t have the numbers in the General Assembly to pass the measure in previous sessions.
Abrams and opponents of the new law say it will lead to increased gun violence.
Here are candidates for governor:
• (R) Brian Kemp, incumbent
Some of Kemp’s highlights, per his website, include approving a $5,000 teacher pay raise, signing “constitutional carry,” reforming adoption and foster care systems, and signing the strongest pro-life bill (a bill prohibiting abortion typically past the sixth week of pregnancy).
• (R) David Perdue, businessman
Perdue is running for governor to secure elections, eliminate state income tax, put parents in charge of their child’s education and make communities safe again.
• (R) Kandiss Taylor, student services coordinator
Taylor’s priorities are maintaining gun rights, eliminating electronic voting machines and absentee ballot drop boxes, and criminalizing abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected or pregnancy is confirmed.
• (R) Catherine Davis, president of The Restoration Project
Davis is a pro-life supporter campaigning on preventing government-imposed medical mandates, changing the state’s election systems and more parent involvement in their child’s schooling.
• (R) Tom Williams, retired
Fighting against vaccine and mask mandates, enforcing policies against transgender females playing on female sports teams and using female facilities are Williams’ top concerns. He also plans to focus on enhancing election integrity.
• (D) Stacey Abrams, author
Abrams has centered her campaign on expanding Medicaid; expanding access to childcare, pre-k and HOPE grants; and expanding voter access by pushing legislation to allow for Election Day voter registration, the implementation of mobile voter precincts and vetoing maps with gerrymandered districts.
As the second highest elected official in the state and the president of the Senate, the lieutenant governor presides over debate in the Senate chamber and works with advocates to introduce legislation. In the event the governor is incapacitated, the lieutenant governor assumes the governor’s powers.
Current Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan is not seeking reelection, resulting in more than a dozen candidates qualifying to become his successor.
Four candidates will appear on the Republican ballot and nine candidates on the Democrat primary ballot.
• (R) Burt Jones, business owner
Endorsed by Trump, Jones wants to cut the state income tax, increase funding for law enforcement officers and invest in the GBI to investigate elections and potential voter fraud.
• (R) Mack McGregor, manufacturing supervisor
A military veteran, McGregor plans to get rid of sanctuary cities, sanction a forensic audit of all Georgia counties, end mandates, create fair and “fraud-free” elections and investigate the Division of Family and Children Services and Child Protective Services activities.
• (R) Butch Miller, auto dealer
Currently the state senate president pro tempore, Miller’s priorities include eliminating absentee ballot drop boxes, eliminating the state income tax, cracking down on social media companies from restricting speech and putting Georgia’s “heartbeat” abortion bill into effect.
• (R) Jeanne Seaver, business owner
Seaver touts herself as a Trump supporter who plans to focus on election integrity, veteran benefits and juvenile crime prevention. Seaver is against bringing commercialized gambling to Georgia.
• (D) Erick Allen, consultant
Expanding Medicaid, preventing voter suppression and educational and environmental justice are among Allen’s campaign priorities.
• (D) Charlie Bailey, attorney
Bailey is running to push efforts to expand Medicaid; fully fund schools, reduce class sizes and pay teachers more; and pay law enforcement officers a livable wage. He wants to invest in public safety training and the GBI’s state crime lab.
• (D) Tyrone Brooks Jr., manager
Brooks’ platform includes supporting modernized training for law enforcement, investing in Georgia and proposing equity legislation such as equal pay for women.
• (D) Tony Brown, military veteran and consultant
While Brown’s website does not list his campaign priorities or platform, the website touts Brown’s 20 years of experience in the armed forces.
• (D) Kwanza Hall, community and business developer
A former Atlanta city councilman who was previously appointed to fill the remaining term of the late Congressman John Lewis, Hall is against filtering history that is tough in schools and wants to reopen medical facilities in areas that have closed. Hall also wants to expand Medicaid and ensure clean water and air.
• (D) Jason Hayes, physician
Hayes plans to include increasing teacher salaries and HOPE scholarship funding, expand Medicaid, implement tax breaks to promote small business growth and increase the number of days and hours allowed for voting.
• (D) Derrick Jackson, retired naval officer, adjunct professor
Among Jackson’s priorities are investing in mental health services and access to public health services, public education, technology and addressing flaws in the criminal justice system.
• (D) Rashid Malik, entrepreneur
Malik supports implementing a single-payer health care program, universal background check and training for anyone who wants to carry a gun, and investing in research and development educational programs.
• (D) Renitta Shannon, business owner
Currently a member of the Georgia House of Representatives, Shannon’s priorities include creating a livable wage or increasing minimum wage, expanding Medicaid, reviewing policies related to enhance police accountability and advocating for LGBTQ+ equity.
• (L) Ryan Graham, project manager
Though no specific details were listed on his website, Graham’s top issues of focus include educational freedom, criminal justice reform and election reform.
Georgia secretary of state
According to the secretary of state’s website, responsibilities of the office include supervising and monitoring elections and providing campaign finance disclosures; managing and preserving public records; providing educational programs about the Capitol; and licensing, monitoring and registering professionals and businesses.
• (R) Brad Raffensperger, incumbent
Though Raffensperger has faced scrutiny from Trump and his supporters — who alleged voter fraud in Georgia due to Trump’s 2020 election loss — Raffensperger boasts his accomplishments in the role including “purchasing and deploying modern voting machines across the entire state that could be audited and verified, including a full recount by hand, if necessary.”
Raffesnperger’s website adds that voter registration has soared under his tenure, with 95% of eligible Georgians registered to vote.
• (R) David Belle Isle, business owner/attorney
Isle would better secure the mail-in ballot process, work to clean up the voter rolls and call for an independent audit of the state’s Dominion voting machines.
• (R) Jody Hice
The Trump-endorsed candidate and current U.S. congressman, Hice wants to continue his fight against proposals for federal government to oversee state elections, replace the state’s Dominion voting system, ensure investigations in potential voter fraud and modernize business registration and licensing.
• (R) T.J. Hudson, county manager
Hudson plans to fix the mail-in ballot issues, mitigate Dominion voting machine security risks and support south and rural Georgia elections staff.
• (D) Dee Dawkins-Haigler, minister/consultant
A former member of the Georgia House of Representatives, Dawkins-Haigler would increase voter participation, create a task force for small businesses and improve the professional licensing process.
• (D) John Eaves, small business owner
Evans plans to create a streamlined process for corporate filing process, recruit diverse businesses and create expedited processes to help increase the number of small businesses.
• (D) Floyd Griffin, retired
A former senator and Milledgeville mayor, Griffin plans to fight against Georgia’s new election laws (SB 202), create a satellite office in Macon for accessibility, and establish small business and minority business roundtables “to ensure all small businesses have a seat at the table.”
• (D) Bee Nguyen, nonprofit director
Currently a member of the Georgia House of Representatives, Nguyen would invest in training and resources for all 159 local election boards; prioritize voter education and outreach, using technology like text messaging alert systems; and protect the election certification process by upholding the will of the people.
She also wants to develop kiosks for voters to submit vote-by-mail applications across Georgia, with a focus on areas with lack of access to broadband.
• (D) Michael Owens, cyber security executive
Owens’ top priorities include increasing voter participation and accessibility; bolstering the state’s cybersecurity and guard against foreign interference; and supporting small businesses, entrepreneurs and veterans.
In this important role, the attorney general acts as the chief legal adviser for the governor and all state agencies, boards and commissions. Among other duties, the attorney general’s office represents the state in all civil cases and in all cases before the Supreme Court of the United States.
Republican incumbent Chris Carr, who was appointed to the seat in 2016 by then-Gov. Nathan Deal, is now seeking his second full term after being elected to a full term in 2018.
• (R) Chris Carr, incumbent
Carr’s top priorities include stopping vaccine and mask mandates, increasing penalties for human traffickers and rescuing victims, attacking Georgia’s gang crisis and upholding Georgia’s new election laws.
• (R) John Gordon, business owner
Much of Gordon’s campaign focuses on voting and elections, with his website stating he plans to work on preventing voter fraud and uncovering any fraud that occurred in the 2020 elections. Other issues of focus include crime, illegal immigration, the influx of fentanyl and preventing the teaching of critical race theory and counseling children younger than the age of 16 on gender identity.
• (D) Jennifer “Jen” Jordan
Currently a state senator, Jordan’s top priorities are fighting against voter suppression; ensuring environmental laws, regulations and policies are enforced and implemented; strengthening police accountability mechanisms and building community-led public safety strategies; and protecting consumer and economic justice.
• (D) Christian Wise Smith, attorney
Smith’s top priorities include criminal justice reform; defending against voter suppression; defending women’s rights to privacy and personal autonomy; and ensuring environmental laws are enforced.
• (L) Martin Cowen, lawyer
Cowen would advocate to end qualified immunity for government agents who kill or injure innocent civilians; end no-knock warrants; end civil asset forfeiture without trial, conviction and due process; defend against vaccine mandates and passports; and defend against government interference in health care decisions.