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Incumbents in Georgia beat primary opponents down the ballot

May 25, 2022 GMT
People wait in line to vote in the Georgia's primary election on Tuesday, May 24, 2022, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
People wait in line to vote in the Georgia's primary election on Tuesday, May 24, 2022, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
People wait in line to vote in the Georgia's primary election on Tuesday, May 24, 2022, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
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People wait in line to vote in the Georgia's primary election on Tuesday, May 24, 2022, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
1 of 7
People wait in line to vote in the Georgia's primary election on Tuesday, May 24, 2022, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

ATLANTA (AP) — Beyond the marquee races for governor and U.S. Senate, several statewide officials overcame challengers from within their own parties in primary elections decided Tuesday in Georgia.

Georgia’s incumbent attorney general and insurance commissioner both defeated fellow Republicans endorsed by Donald Trump. The former president also picked a favorite in the open race for lieutenant governor. Meanwhile, the Republican state school superintendent won a primary challenge by his predecessor.

A look at some key down-ballot races in the Georgia primaries.

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LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR

A lawmaker endorsed by Trump led three fellow Republican rivals seeking the GOP nomination for lieutenant governor, though it was too early to call the race. The office’s current occupant, Republican and Trump critic Geoff Duncan, passed on seeking another term.

State Sen. Burt Jones led in unofficial returns but it was too soon to call whether he would get more than 50% of the vote as needed to avoid a runoff. Jones called for a statewide investigation into the 2020 election, embracing Trump’s baseless claims of widespread fraud.

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Senate President Pro Tem Butch Miller, businesswoman Jeanne Seaver and manufacturing plant supervisor Mack McGregor were also on the Republican ballot.

A crowded Democratic primary will go to June 21 runoff between former Atlanta City Council member Kwanza Hall and Charlie Bailey, who ran statewide previously as the 2018 Democratic nominee for attorney general.

ATTORNEY GENERAL

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

Insurance Commissioner John King overcame his first election challenge since the governor appointed him to the post in 2019. He defeated two fellow Republicans: real estate developer Ben Cowart and Patrick Witt, a legal consultant endorsed by Trump.

A former Doraville police chief and Army National Guard officer, King took the job following the indictment of his predecessor, Jim Beck, who was convicted last year of fraud.

The Democratic primary between three contenders will go to a runoff between the top two finishers. On June 21, insurance salesman Raphael Baker will face Janice Laws Robinson, who ran unsuccessfully for insurance commissioner as the 2018 Democratic nominee.

SCHOOL SUPERINTENDENT

Georgia’s Republican state school superintendent easily won a primary challenge by a predecessor hoping to take the job back.

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Incumbent Superintendent Richard Woods defeated fellow Republican John Barge in a race marked by back-and-forth allegations over who performed worst in the job.

Alisha Thomas Searcy won the Democratic primary for school superintendent eight years after she ran unsuccessfully for the office. She defeated three other Democrats seeking the nomination.

AGRICULTURE COMMISSIONER

Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black wasn’t seeking reelection, opting instead to run for U.S. Senate in the Republican primary that was won Tuesday by former football great Herschel Walker.

In the Democratic primary, Nakita Hemingway, a cut-flower grower and real estate agent, defeated State Rep. Winfred Dukes and Fred Swann, the Democrat who unsuccessfully challenged Black in 2018.

Republican state Sen. Tyler Harper was unopposed for the GOP nomination.

LABOR COMMISSIONER

State Sen. Bruce Thompson won a three-way primary for the Republican nomination for Georgia labor commissioner.

Incumbent Labor Commissioner Mark Butler, a Republican, wasn’t seeking reelection. His last term was marked by a scramble to process record unemployment claims resulting from coronavirus shutdowns.

Thompson led the GOP primary over Mike Coan, who had served as Butler’s deputy labor commissioner and won his boss’s endorsement, and businessman Kartik Bhatt.

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The Democratic primary will be decided with a runoff June 21, when state Rep. William Boddie will face entrepreneur Nicole Horn. They were the top finishers out of four Democrats seeking the nomination.

CONGRESS

Eight members of Congress from Georgia overcame primary challengers Tuesday.

Democratic Reps. Sanford Bishop, David Scott, Hank Johnson and Nikema Williams all won contested primary races. Rep. Lucy McBath defeated fellow Democratic Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux in a primary race between incumbents in metro Atlanta’s 7th District.

Republican Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene, Andrew Clyde and Drew Ferguson all beat GOP primary rivals.

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Bynum reported from Savannah, Georgia.