Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for November 9, 2022

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for November 9, 2022

Former Confederate General John B. Gordon was sworn-in as Governor of Georgia on November 9, 1886.

The next day, November 9, 1932, President-elect FDR addressed a national broadcast to the American people and mentioned that he would spend Thanksgiving at his “second home” in Georgia.

On November 9, 1938, Kristallnacht began the organized destruction and looting of Jewish businesses and homes in Munich, Germany.

On November 9, 1989, the former East Germany announced that citizens could cross the border to West Germany. That night, crowds began tearing down sections of the wall that divided the city.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Brian Kemp was reelected yesterday over Democrat Stacey Abrams. From the Associated Press via the Valdosta Daily Times:

“Well, it looks like the reports of my political death have been greatly exaggerated,” Kemp told supporters in a sometimes-defiant victory speech Tuesday night after two years of trouble had threatened to snuff out his reelection bid.

Kemp argued in his victory speech that his campaign, which saw him use the power of his office to shower tax cuts and cash on voters while attacking Abrams for being insufficiently supportive of police, was a recipe for Republican success in Georgia. Democrats believed that an increasing share of nonwhite voters would put them on the path to victory in the state.

“This election proves that when Republicans stay focused on real world solutions that put hard-working people first, we can win now, but also in the future, y’all.” Kemp said.

“I may no longer be seeking the office of governor, but I will never stop doing everything in my power to make sure the people of Georgia have a voice.”

“They came after us,” Kemp said of critics of loosening pandemic restrictions. “But the truth was on our side. They attacked us because even when times were tough, and decisions were hard to make, we did the right thing for hard working Georgians and their families. We did not waver.”

Kemp also gave billions in tax breaks and handouts using federal and state money. He pushed laws to suspend the state gas tax, give $1 billion of state income tax refunds and even give $350 to every person in the state on public assistance. He also pledged another income tax break and a property tax break if reelected, portraying the cash as helping Georgians “fight through 40-year-high inflation and high gas prices” that he blamed on Biden, Abrams and other Democrats.

Rising costs were named as a top concern among the state’s voters, with roughly 9 in 10 saying the inflated prices of groceries, gas and other goods were an important factor in how they cast ballots. Among those who said they considered inflation in their voting decision, roughly half said the cost of groceries and food was the most important factor.

Abrams raised $85 million through Sept. 30, but even Kemp’s $60 million would have by far been a record for a governor’s race in Georgia, as he sought to build a national fundraising base. And Abrams’ financial advantage was never enough to run away with the race — Kemp led in polls throughout.

From the Valdosta Daily Times:

In 2018 when Abrams and Kemp first squared off, Kemp defeated Abrams by just 55,000 votes. This go round, as 11:30 p.m. Nov. 8, Kemp held a nearly 9-point lead over Abrams by more than 300,000 votes (nearly 54%). Abrams, who had an estimated 1.6million, or 45.5% of votes, reportedly called Kemp to concede just after 11 p.m., with 87% percent of votes in.

In the U.S. Senate race, Georgia is one of 11 key battleground states that could determine which party will control the U.S. Senate.

Libertarian candidate Chase Oliver appeared to be pushing the two headline contenders, Walker and Warnock, to a runoff.

As of 11:30 p.m. Nov. 8, Walker secured 49.2% of votes, leading Warnock by just 15,000 votes.  Warnock held 48.8 %, or 1.76 million votes, as of 11:10 p.m. More than 72,000 voters cast a ballot for Oliver, ballots which likely could have put either Walker or Warnock over the 50+1 threshold that is need to secure the U.S. Senate seat.

With an estimated 3.6 million votes counted in both the governor and U.S. Senate race as of 11:30 p.m., it appears that Walker received significantly less Republican support than Kemp.

From the Savannah Morning News:

Kemp, a Republican, held a 300,000-plus vote advantage with 75% of precincts reporting, prompting an Abrams’ concession. As of 11:10 p.m., Kemp held 54% of the vote in a three-way race that also included Libertarian Shane Hazel.

Kemp’s victory means the Republicans will control all three levels of state government for at least two more years. The GOP retained the majority in both the Georgia House and the Georgia Senate in Tuesday’s election.

Also from the Savannah Morning News:

Kemp’s advantage over Abrams was so impressive – approximately 300,000 votes – that she conceded early, with hundreds of thousands of votes remaining to be counted in Democratic strongholds such as Fulton, Dekalb, Bibb and Chatham counties.

Kemp used economic messages deftly, bragging about the state’s low unemployment rate and economic development success while also pinning the inflation rate on the Democrats in power in the federal government – and Abrams by extension.

“We woke up every single day talking about how to build a safer, stronger Georgia for you and your family and help your family through Joe Biden’s 40-year high inflation,” Kemp said. “We have focused on how resilient Georgia’s economy has been despite the disaster we’re seeing in Washington D.C. and across the country.”

He was rewarded with strong voter turnout in the general election. He outperformed the other high-profile statewide candidate, U.S. Senate candidate Herschel Walker, by more than 200,000 votes.

With the victory, Kemp becomes the third consecutive Georgia governor to win a second term and his success helped propel down-ballot Republicans to wins. The GOP swept all state government elected posts and maintained majority control of both chambers of the Georgia General Assembly.

From WSAV:

More than 4 million people could vote in the state’s elections this year, and more than half are likely to cast ballots before Election Day. More than 200,000 people requested mail-in ballots in the state and early, in-person voting ran through Nov. 4. Despite record early voter turnout, Abrams doubled down on her claims of voter suppression in the state just two weeks before Election Day.

From WTOC:

Democratic challenger Stacey Abrams conceded to Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp on Tuesday in a rematch of their 2018 race.

Abrams called Kemp to concede, according to his campaign, and went on stage minutes later to congratulate the governor.

“I may no longer be seeking the office of governor, but I will never stop doing everything in my power to ensure the people of Georgia have a voice,” she said.

The Race for United States Senate likely will continue forever into December, according to the Savannah Morning News.

“While county officials are still doing the detailed work on counting the votes, we feel it is safe to say there will be a runoff for the US Senate here in Georgia slated for December 6,” Tweeted Gabriel Sterling, chief operating officer for the Secretary of State, at 2:07 a.m.

Incumbent Raphael Warnock held less than a percentage point lead over Republican Herschel Walker, according to the Secretary of State’s website, with almost 97% of precincts reporting. However, Fulton County in the heart of metro Atlanta is among the counties not yet fully counted.

As of about 2 a.m. Warnock had 1,922,548 votes to Walker’s 1,891,284, about 30,000 votes apart. With Libertarian candidate Chase Oliver picking up about 2% of the vote, neither major party candidate had over 50% — meaning the race could go to a runoff, unless the remaining ballots push one candidate over the mark.

The race was also the among the expensive Senate race in the country, according to the election spending site Open Secrets. The candidates raised an eye-popping $143 million, more than in any other race, and spent $115 million — second only to the $133 million spent by candidates in the Pennsylvania Senate race.

Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger won reelection, according to Atlanta News First via WTOC.

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger won re-election Tuesday, defeating a challenge from Democrat Bee Nguyen, who conceded the race before midnight on election day.

As of 11:30 p.m. Tuesday, Raffensperger was leading Nguyen, a former state lawmaker who had the strong backing of Democrat Stacey Abrams in her gubernatorial campaign, with 54% of the vote to Nguyen’s 43%. Nguyen confirmed on Twitter around 11:30 that she had conceded.

From 13WMAZ:

In a post, [Nguyen] said she called Raffensperger to congratulate him on his reelection. She also showed gratitude for those who supported her in her race for a statewide office.

“The past years haven’t been easy in Georgia — I’m grateful to be in (a) race where we can have a phone call & wish each other well,” Nguyen said in a statement. “Thank you to the voters in the state of Georgia. You inspire me.”

Republicans held the rest of the statewide Constitutional offices, according to the AJC.

No Democrat has won a down-ballot statewide race in Georgia since 2006.

Burt Jones, a Donald Trump-backed Republican state senator from Jackson, led in the race to replace Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan, who did not seek reelection.

Republican Attorney General Chris Carr appeared headed to re-election over Democratic state Sen. Jen Jordan late Tuesday to be the state’s top lawyer for another four years.

Republican state Sen. Tyler Harper, meanwhile, was on his way to becoming Georgia’s next agriculture commissioner, beating Democratic opponent Nakita Hemingway.

Republican incumbent John King beat Democratic challenger Janice Laws Robinson in the Georgia insurance commissioner’s race. The commissioner regulates rates for various types of insurance and serves as the state’s fire marshal.

Republican Richard Woods won his reelection for state school superintendent.

In the race for Georgia’s next labor commissioner, Republican state Sen. Bruce Thompson led Democratic state Rep. William Boddie.

Republicans also held on to majorities in both legislative chambers, according to the AJC.

In the state House, Democrat Ruwa Romman of Johns Creek, won her race and will became the first Muslim woman in the chamber, while Republican Tim Fleming, former chief of staff to Gov. Brian Kemp and ex-Newton County commissioner, won a seat east of Atlanta.

In the Senate, Rep. Ed Setzler, R-Acworth, who sponsored the state’s strict anti-abortion law, won his race for a seat in the upper chamber. Shawn Still of Norcross, who joined a group of Republicans who falsely said they were electors to support Donald Trump’s bid to overturn the election, won another Senate seat redrawn to elect a Republican.

In metro Atlanta, state Rep. Josh McLaurin, D-Atlanta, beat Liz Hausmann, a Republican Fulton County Commissioner from Johns Creek. Meanwhile, Sen. Michelle Au, D-Johns Creek, who was drawn into a Republican-leaning Senate district by the GOP majority, won a state House seat.

Former Republican state Rep. Scott Hilton of Peachtree Corners beat state Rep. Mary Robichaux, a Democrat from Roswell, one of at least two races where Republicans looked poised to retake North Atlanta seats they previously held, while Rep. Mike Cheokas, R-Americus, who has been in and out of the state House, won another term.

Jason Esteves, a Democrat who has served as chairman of the Atlanta school board, beat Fred Glass, a Republican financial advisor from Atlanta, for the Senate seat currently held by Sen. Jen Jordan, D-Atlanta. Jordan ran this year for attorney general.

In the State House, the race for Speaker has been narrowed, as Speaker Pro Tem Jan Jones and State Rep. Matt Hatchett both back Majority Leader Jon Burns for the top slot, according to the AJC.

Jan Jones, the No. 2 Republican in the House, and Matt Hatchett, another high-ranking legislator, each agreed to clear the way for Majority Leader Jon Burns to seek Ralston’s post.

The maneuvering came days after Ralston said he would give up his leadership position next year because of an unspecified “health challenge.” The Blue Ridge Republican will still stand for another term in the Legislature.

The decisions don’t guarantee that Burns will be elected to the leadership post. State Rep. Barry Fleming, a Ralston rival, has already started running for the position and is considered a serious contender. And state Rep. Alan Powell is also weighing a bid for the powerful post.

It was a swift change of heart. On Monday, Jones sent her caucus a letter announcing she’s seeking to succeed Ralston with a promise to embrace “conservative principles that unite us, not divide us.”

Hatchett said he won’t seek any leadership post.

“This was not a decision I made lightly, but during these uncertain times, the strength and stability of our caucus is of utmost importance,” he said. “While I will not run for another leadership position, I believe I can be of service to you and the House body in other ways.”

Fleming, meanwhile, said he’s unfazed by the maneuvering as he pointed to his experience as the architect of Georgia’s voting overhaul.

“Members know that this is a unique moment where proven, unwavering leadership matters most,” he said.

United States Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Extreme Northwest Georgia) was reelected handily, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen News.

Greene won reelection over Democrat Marcus Flowers. Greene’s outspoken embrace of fringe-right conspiracies prompted admirers and detractors across the U.S. to throw money at the race.

From the Rome News Tribune:

Greene, in her second race, took 66.1% of the vote to Flowers’ 33.9% even as the challenger raised $15.6 million to Greene’s $12 million in contributions. Greene won in all 11 counties in the district.

Rome Board of Education appointee  Toni Blanchard handily won the election for the seat on the school board. She will fill the remainder of John Uldrick’s term.  Blanchard took 52.9% of the vote over three challengers.

Floyd County voted to opt in to allow licensed outlets to sell beer and wine by the drink and by the package between 11 a.m. and midnight on Sundays. Sales currently can’t begin until 12:30 p.m. The final vote was 65% yes, 35% no. Rome residents approved the change within the city limits in 2019, with 65.3% of the vote.

Republican Rich McCormick was elected to Congress from the Sixth Congressional District, according to the AJC.

The race has been called by CNN for the Republican, who defeated Democrat Bob Christian. After redistricting, the metro Atlanta seat became GOP-leaning.

McCormick, who lives in Suwanee, said he plans to put his health care and military experience at the forefront of his tenure in the U.S. House, where he wants to focus on veterans affairs.

The metro Atlanta seat was previously considered a swing district, and U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath flipped it to Democratic control in 2018. After the seat became more conservative under maps approved in 2021, McBath decided to run in the neighboring 7th District instead.

U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter (R-Pooler) won reelection over Democrat Wade Herring, according to The Brunswick News.

Carter garnered 60.3% of the vote to hold off Democratic challenger Wade Herring, who received 39.7% of votes across the 15-county district as of 10:44 p.m. Tuesday.

“It’s very humbling,” Carter said Tuesday night. “This is my home. This is where I’ve lived all my life, and where I intend to live the rest of my life. You can imagine what an honor and privilege it is for me to represent these people and be their voice in Congress. I tell people all the time that there are 435 districts in Congress, and we live in the very best one — and I mean that. We just have so much here, and our economy is booming.”

“I think we’re going to do exceptionally well in the House and I do think that Republicans are going to take over the Senate as well,” Carter said.

“That will give us a divided government, but I would submit to you that a divided government works best,” Carter said. “I point to recent history with (former House Speaker) Tip O’Neill and (President) Ronald Reagan, and (former House Speaker) Newt Gingrich and (President) Bill Clinton. I hope this administration will work with us to help move this country forward.”

U.S. Rep. Drew Ferguson (R-West Point) won reelection, according to Atlanta News First via WTVM.

U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop (D-Albany) appears to have survived a challenge by Republican Chris West, according to WTVM.

The Associated Press has called Georgia’s Congressional District 2 race for Rep. Sanford Bishop.

Election Day was officially underway, and the race that political analysts have classified as “the only competitive U.S. House race in the Deep South” has been determined.

The race was called, with Bishop receiving about 54.9% of Georgia’s votes and West with about 45.1%.

U.S. Rep. Rick Allen (R-Augusta) won reelection, according to WRDW.

>Allen fought off a challenge from Elizabeth Johnson, of Bulloch County.

With 82% of votes recorded early Wednesday, Allen had 135,171 votes vs. 93,178 for Johnson.

Republican Shelly Echols won election to State Senate District 49, which was vacated by Sen. Butch Miller, according to AccessWDUN.

Shelly Echols ran against Democratic candidate Jody Cooley in this year’s midterm election and said shes proud of Hall County voters.

“We worked hard,” Echols said. “We’ve been working hard for about a year and a half now. And you know, the voters of Hall County, they showed up and they showed out.”

Echols first priority is to address and strengthen education.

“I think we’ve got to make sure that, you know, we have great education, we’re protecting our students, we’re protecting our teachers,” Echols said. “We’re doing everything we can with education. That’s kind of a priority right now.”

“I mean, first of all, it’s the taxpayers money of Georgia, so that’s, you know, that’s who needs to get the money first,” Echols said. [We’ve got to replenish the fuel tax, we’ve got to replenish that fund. But you know, I think that that money needs–instead of creating more things to spend that money on, we just need to return that money back to the citizens, the taxpayers.”

Echols also emphasized the need to protect female athletes.

“I want to make sure that our female athletes, female students are protected, and they’re not intimidated in bathrooms in your private areas, by having male students in those areas,” Echols said. “So I just think we need to make sure that those are protected.”

Republican Soo Hong was elected to State House District 103, according to AccessWDUN.

Republican candidate Soo Hong has defeated Ernie Anaya in the Georgia House of Representatives District 103 race in Georgia’s 2022 midterm election.

She was born in Seoul, South Korea and migrated with her family to the United States when she was 10 years old.

Gwinnett County voters renewed their Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST), according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

With 100% of the precincts counted, and only provisional and overseas/military ballots left to be counted, 63.89% of voters cast “Yes” ballots to extend the SPLOST.

The new SPLOST is expected to generate $1.35 billion through the end of the decade.

Glynn County voters narrowly passed a Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) referendum, according to The Brunswick News.

Glynn County voters approved SPLOST 2022 by a narrow margin Tuesday, passing it in a 51.4% to 48.6% vote.

The additional 1% sales tax will go into effect on April 1, 2023.

“We’re very pleased it passed but disappointed it wasn’t by a greater margin,” said Glynn County Commission Chairman Wayne Neal.

Neal said the most surprising part of the results is from where support sprang — St. Simons Island. All three St. Simons Island precincts voted in favor of the tax, some more closely divided than others.

“I want to thank the community for supporting SPLOST,” said Commissioner Cap Fendig, who represents St. Simons Island. “You can count on this commission doing a proper return on investment through project management, a tiered structure of priority and fiscal responsibility.”

Bulloch County voters passed a Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax for Education, (E-SPLOST) and a SPLOST for Transportation, (T-SPLOST) according to the Statesboro Herald.

Large majorities said “yes” to continuing two local sales taxes and allowing liquor stores to be licensed in the county’s unincorporated areas.

[L]ocal majorities chose Republican candidates from U.S. Senate challenger Herschel Walker and incumbent Gov. Brian Kemp on down the ballot, with one exception. That exception was Bulloch County Commissioner Anthony Simmons, a 30-year Democratic incumbent re-elected to Seat 1-B with 2,688 votes to 1,931 votes for Republican challenger Preston Tutt III in majority-minority Commission District 1.

But in Commission District 2, where seat 2-B Commissioner Walter Gibson, a Republican, is retiring, 13,792 voters chose Toby Conner, also a Republican, to succeed him, while Democratic candidate Jake Hallman received 4,740 votes. All of the vote counts in this story are unofficial and incomplete election-night totals, with final results yet to be certified.

To the question of allowing “package sales of distilled spirits” in other words liquor stores, in the unincorporated area of the county, the vote count was 16,825 “yes” to 5,909 “no.”

On extending the Education Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, or E-SPLOST, for five more years, the count  was 16,457 “yes” to 6,468 “no.”

On  the  first  five-year extension of the Transportation SPLOST,  voters went  13,056 “yes” to 9,629 “no.”

Turnout did not quite match that for the last gubernatorial election. In the fall 2018 general election, which also featured a race for governor between Kemp and Democrat Stacey Abrams, nearly 60% of Bulloch County’s active, registered voters participated.

Chatham County voters defeated a proposed SPLOST, according to the Savannah Morning News.

TSPLOST, or Transportation Special Local Option Sales Tax, failed by 1,385 votes in a referendum that attracted 102,497 total votes.

The TSPLOST referendum asked voters if they would support a 1% increase in county sales tax — from 7% to 8% — that would have generated about $420 million over the next five years to improve Chatham County’s roads, bridges, pedestrian and bike trails and public transportation.

Getting TSPLOST back on the ballot has been a hard-won battle. A multi-county TSPLOST referendum failed 10 years ago. And this year’s countywide TSPLOST was left off the May primary election ballot due to disagreements between Chatham County and the City of Savannah.

After staking a spot on the November ballot, the majority of voters ultimately killed the referendum, keeping Chatham County’s sales tax at 7%.

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