Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for June 18, 2024

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Jun

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for June 18, 2024

British forces under General Sir Henry Clinton left Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on June 18, 1778 after occupying the former capital for nine months.

On June 18, 1807, commissioners from Georgia and North Carolina agreed to recognize the 35th parallel as the boundary between the two states. North Carolina conducted a survey that placed the boundary further South than the 35th parallel, though Georgia never accepted the survey and continues to argue that the 35th is the proper boundary against both North Carolina and Tennessee.

The War of 1812 began on June 18, 1812, as President James Madison signed a declaration of war against Great Britain passed by the House and Senate.

On June 18, 1873, Susan B. Anthony was fined $100 for illegally voting in Rochester, New York. At the conclusion of her trial, the judge read a statement that, “The Fourteenth Amendment gives no right to a woman to vote, and the voting by Miss Anthony was in violation of the law,” and directed the jury to convict her. Anthony responded,

“Yes, your honor, I have many things to say; for in your ordered verdict of guilty, you have trampled underfoot every vital principle of our government,” Anthony said. “My natural rights, my civil rights, my political rights, my judicial rights, are all alike ignored. Robbed of the fundamental privilege of citizenship, I am degraded from the status of a citizen to that of a subject; and not only myself individually, but all of my sex, are, by your honor’s verdict, doomed to political subjection under this, so-called, form of government.”

The Southern Railway Company was organized on June 18, 1894 and through predecessor railroads traces its heritage to the nation’s first regularly-scheduled railroad service, The Best Friend of Charleston. Samuel Spencer, of Columbus, Georgia, was the first President of the Southern. In the 1980s, the Southern merged with Norfolk & Western Railway to form Norfolk Southern.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Today is Primary Runoff day and you can vote until 7 PM. If you’re not sure whether you have runoffs to vote in, you can log into the Secretary of State’s My Voter Page and check your sample ballots.

From the Valdosta Daily Times:

In May 21 elections, one Republican primary race for County Commission District 5 went into a runoff, while an election for Lowndes County Board of Education District 7 was also a close race to be finally decided Tuesday, said Tiffany Linkswiler of the Lowndes County Board of Elections.

In the county commission race, five candidates competed; the top vote getter, Michael Smith, received 1,496 votes, or 30.74% of the votes cast. Tommy Willis received 1,183; James Puckett, 969; David Sims, 779; and Savannah Baker, 440. Under state law, the top two candidates in a race where no one got at least 50% face off in a runoff.

The winner of the Tuesday runoff between Smith and Willis must still face Democrat Ron J. Bythwood, who ran in his primary unopposed. That election will take place Nov. 5.

In the race for Board of Education District 7, Chris Buescher received 503 votes, which is 49.90% of the total votes cast for the position; G. Edward “Eddie” Smith, the incumbent, received 322; and Larry Godwin received 183. Buescher and Smith are competing in Tuesday’s runoff.

Because only two races are being decided today, not all voting precincts will be open. Linkswiler said not everyone in each voting precinct will be eligible to vote, only those in the specific named districts on the ballots.

From 13WMAZ:

Here is a look at which races are headed for a runoff:

GA House 145 Democrats
Juawn Jackson
Tangie Herring

US House 2 Republicans
Wayne Johnson
Chuck Hand

Bibb District 3
Melvin Flowers
Stanley Stewart

Bibb District 8
Donice Bryant
Kim Jenkins

Monroe Chairman
Gregory Tapley
James Gibbs

Pulaski Sheriff
Wayne Wiley
Terry Hood

Houston County Board of Education, District 7
Clyde Jackson
Angel Brown

Baldwin District 4 Republicans
Jack Wright
Andrew Strickland

Baldwin District 5 Republicans 
Scott Little
John Westmoreland

Laurens Tax Commissioner 
Darla Brown
Tim Aldridge

Laurens District 2 Republicans
Lawton Kemp
Keith Oliver

Monroe Coroner 
Mark Goolsby
Joey Proctor

From the Macon Telegraph:

Here are the candidates running in Tuesday’s runoff election.

Macon-Bibb County commission
District 3: Melvin Flowers Jr. will contend with Stanley Stewart after being the top two vote-getters in May.

District 8: Donice Bryant and Kim Jenkins advanced to the runoff after being the top two candidates in a field of four last month.

Georgia House of Representatives
The Democratic primary for the District 145 seat in the Georgia statehouse is still up for grabs Tuesday. Juawn Jackson and Tangie Herring are the two candidates on the ballot. The winner will face Noah Harbuck, who won the Republican primary in May.

From AccessWDUN:

Primary runoff elections are being held today (Tuesday, June 18) in Georgia. Hall County has two primary races invovled in runoffs today.

The race for Hall County Commission Chair has incumbent Richard Higgins facing a challenge from David Gibbs. The race for Hall County’s State Court Judge seat is up for grabs between Andy Maddox and John “Tripp” Wingate.

John “Tripp” Wingate III and Andy Maddox spoke about their campaigns for Hall County State Court, according to WDUN.

Maddox and Wingate discussed the process of running in Hall County.

“It’s a tough process. It’s one of those where the good news is, I have just thoroughly enjoyed being all over Hall County, meeting everybody, it’s been very good for me to get back up off the couch,” Maddox said.  “For the last two years, I’ve been a judge, I’ve enjoyed being a judge, I enjoy going home at the end of the day, you don’t have a trial to get ready for, to try the next day. So it’s been good for me to get out all over the county. It’s been wonderful to meet people, to see people to hear their concerns, and educate people about the judicial system.”

“The process has been eye-opening. It’s been it’s been great. I have been all over Hall County and I have talked to probably thousands of people. It goes back to conservative values and what that means to people here in Hall County. For me being a conservative means the Constitution is the rule of law, judges are to apply the law not create it. I’m a supporter of the Second Amendment right to life, and I support conservative candidates and conservative values voting in the Republican primaries,” Wingate said.

Election day for the runoff is Tuesday, June 18.

From the Augusta Chronicle:

Augusta voters have two races to decide:

The Democratic candidates for sheriff. Incumbent Richard Roundtree faces Eugene “Gino Rock” Brantley.

In the race for Superior Court Judge for the Augusta Judicial Circuit, Charles Lyons and Matt Matson are vying to replace retiring Judge Danny Craig.

Columbia County voters will decide the Republican nominee for Georgia House District 131 seat between Rob Clifton and Paul Abbott. They want to replace Rep. Jodi Lott who did not see re-election.

From WRDW:

Perhaps the highest profile race on the ballot is the Democratic runoff between Incumbent Richard Roundtree is looking to keep his seat, while challenger Eugene “Gino Rock” Brantley is hoping to win.

In Richmond County, about 6% of eligible voters either had voted early or by absentee by Friday, according to Richmond County Board of Elections Executive Director Travis Doss.

Expected turnout is between 15% and 20%, according to Doss.

“Last week, we had one week of advanced voting and we had a little over 6,000 people who came out and voted early. That really that kind of shocked me. It really did. I mean, we did about a little over 7,000 in the run off in 2022. We had about 10 races on that ballot. So the fact there are only two races on the ballot, and the fact that technically the Republican voters really didn’t have anything to vote on, I was really surprised at the big numbers that we saw in the early voting,” said Doss.

“The big thing to remember, for the people who were registered and eligible to vote for the primary in May, the registration deadline was April 22. If you were registered and eligible to vote, you can still vote in the runoff regardless as to whether you voted in the primary. So again, 128,000 people have the potential of being able to vote in the runoff,” he said.

For the runoff, if a voter voted Democratic, they can choose Democratic or nonpartisan ballot.

If a voter voted Republican, they will receive only the nonpartisan race on their ballot.

Clarke County Board of Education District 2 voters will choose between incumbent Claudia Butts and challenger Mary P. Bagby, according to the Athens Banner Herald.

Butts and Bagby were the top vote recipients in May 21 non-partisan balloting. Kirrena Gallagher, who was elected to the District 2 seat in 2020, but left in 2022 for an unsuccessful bid for a seat on the Athens-Clarke County Commission, placed third in the contest. Butts was appointed to the District 2 seat after Gallagher’s departure.

Butts was the leading vote-getter in the May 21 contest, claiming 319 of the 893 votes cast, 35.72% of all ballots in the race. Bagby got 299 votes to claim 33.48% of the ballots cast, while Gallagher trailed with 275 votes, 30.8% of the ballots cast.

On election day, the Miriam Moore Community Center, Winterville Cultural Center, J.J. Harris Elementary School, Howard B. Stroud Elementary School, Gaines Elementary School and Athen-Ben Epps Airport precincts will be open from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. for District 2 voters.

Voters who aren’t certain whether they reside in District 2, or in which voting precinct they should cast their ballot, can check the Georgia Secretary of State’s My Voter Page online at https://mvp.sos.ga.gov/s/, or call the county elections office at (706) 613-3150.

Three North Georgia counties are hosting runoffs for Sheriff, according to the Athens Banner Herald.

In Franklin County, the runoff in the Republican primary runoff has Scott Andrews, a retired Georgia State Patrol trooper, facing Brian Stovall, who is a current deputy in the office. Sheriff Steve Thomas decided not to seek re-election.

In the May primary, Andrews narrowly missed winning the nomination as he had 49.49% of the vote, according to the Georgia Secretary of State. In the three-candidate race, Stovall came in second with 30.5% of the vote.

The Elbert County sheriff’s race in the Democratic Party primary has Darren Scarborough, a captain in the sheriff’s office, facing Elbert County native Dre’Kevious Gibbs.

In the primary, Scarborough tallied 699 votes to 526 for Gibbs. The winner will face Republican candidate Jamie Callaway in the November General Election. Sheriff Melvin Andrews did not see re-election.

The Morgan County race in the Republican primary runoff features Joseph Pritchett, a lieutenant with the sheriff’s office, and Tyler Hooks, a veteran of the Rockdale County Sheriff’s Office. They were the top vote-getters in a race that feature seven candidates who wanted to replace Sheriff Robert Markley.

Cobb County Commission District 2 voters will choose a Democratic nominee, according to the AJC.

The ongoing lawsuit over a potential District 2 Republican candidate’s disqualification will likely decide the fate of the county’s electoral map. Cobb’s commission passed its own county map in 2022, a rebuke of state lawmakers who had drawn a sitting Democratic commissioner out of her seat during her term earlier that year.

In the May Democratic primary election, former school board member Jaha Howard gained the most votes in the District 2 commission race with 33%. Taniesha Whorton, a political newcomer and a law firm executive assistant, surprised many by beating out former state Rep. Erick Allen for second place in the race with 23% of the vote.

Because no candidates in the five-person race received more than 50% of the vote, it will be decided in the June 18 runoff.

Howard and Whorton both live in District 2 in both the county map and the state map, so their qualification would not change even if the map does. Republican candidate Pamela Reardon ran unopposed in the May primary and is currently set to face the Democratic runoff winner in November.

In Rockdale County, former Republican State Senator Janice VanNess takes on incumbent Commission Chair Oz Nesbitt, according to the AJC.

Once a rising GOP star, VanNess is battling to lead the County Commission in one of Georgia’s most liberal bastions. And she’s running as a Democrat.

VanNess bested Jenkins and two other rivals in last month’s primary, forcing a June 18 runoff against Rockdale County Commission Chair Oz Nesbitt. The winner is guaranteed to capture the seat in November, which is why VanNess ran with a “D” by her name.

After stints as a commissioner and GOP state legislator, VanNess tells audiences she’s a reluctant candidate, only joining the race when another contender she supported dropped out. But she felt compelled to run because someone needed to bring “smart growth and responsible leadership” to her native county.

She calls herself an independent-minded Democrat who backs Medicaid expansion and supports lower taxes. She said she won’t vote for Donald Trump but won’t yet endorse Joe Biden either.

Republican candidate for Glynn County Commission District 2 Bob Duncan disclaimed any knowledge of literature calling for his “reelection,” according to The Brunswick News.

Glynn County Commission candidate Bob Duncan has denied any knowledge of flyers being sent in the mail last week urging voters to “re-elect” him to the District 2 seat.

He is facing Amy Abbott for the Republican nomination to the District 2 seat in today’s runoff election. The seat is currently held by Cap Fendig, who decided not to seek another term in office.

“The flyer in question was sent by an outside political action group that has no ties to me or my campaign,” Duncan said. “I had no prior knowledge about the flyer and I certainly did not provide any of the content or approve the message — neither did my campaign committee.”

The flyers included a short notice printed above the address that said “Paid for by R.E.D. PAC. Not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee.” The return address is a PO Box in Austin, Texas.

Also on today’s runoff election ballot are the countywide nonpartisan race for the Brunswick-Glynn Joint Water and Sewer Commission between Bill Edgy and Stacey Grace and the Republican state House 180 seat between incumbent Steven Sainz, R-St. Marys, and Glenn Cook of Jekyll Island.

Third Congressional District Republican voters will choose between former State Senator Mike Dugan (R-Carrollton) and Brian Jack, according to the AJC.

WRBL reporter Chuck Williams joined “Politically Georgia” from Columbus to give an update on the runoff between former state Sen. Mike Dugan and Brian Jack, a former aide to Trump.

“They are totally intertwined,” Williams said of Trump and Jack.

A runoff happens when no candidate gains a majority of the vote. In the five-candidate GOP primary for the 3rd Congressional District on May 21, Jack bested Dugan in every county in the district but Carroll, the former Georgia Senate GOP leader’s base.

“It was 22% was the difference between Dugan and Jack, so (there’s a) substantial amount of air between the two of them right now,” Williams said.

“If you look at this seat in a normal situation, Mike Dugan would be the front-runner. He’s a U.S. Army Ranger, he’s a (former) state senator who’s been very successful out of the area,” he added.

Just a little further south, in the 2nd Congressional District, Chuck Hand and Wayne Johnson are competing for the GOP nomination.

Hand is one of at least four people convicted of Jan. 6 crimes running for Congress this year, all as Republicans. He was sentenced to 20 days in federal prison and six months of probation.

Johnson won almost 45% of the vote in the May 21 primary while Hand won almost 32%. Tuesday’s winner will challenge 16-term Democratic U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop in November.

From the AJC:

In addition, there are eight runoffs for the General Assembly, including a South Georgia challenge to incumbent Republican Rep. Steven Sainz, who faces Glenn Cook, a veteran and retired pilot.

Voters in DeKalb County are choosing a new CEO in the race between Democratic Commissioners Lorraine Cochran-Johnson and Larry Johnson. The winner will succeed outgoing CEO Mike Thurmond.

Clayton County voters are deciding on their sheriff, with incumbent Sheriff Levon Allen facing Commission Chairman Jeff Turner.

Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. in all areas where runoffs were required because no candidate won more than 50% of the votes in last month’s primary.

Heading into election day, about 136,000 early and absentee voters had already cast their ballots. During last month’s primary, total turnout reached 1.27 million voters.

Two Gwinnett County Board of Education seats are up for grabs in today’s Runoff Election, according to the AJC.

The elections could shift the balance of power in Georgia’s largest school district, where the five-member board has frequently been split on major issues.

Here’s our look at the candidates in each race:

District 1: Incumbent faces former teacher in Gwinnett school board runoff

District 3: Gwinnett school board candidates outline divergent visions for the district

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp met with South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol during Georgia’s trade trip to South Korea, according to the Associated Press via the Valdosta Daily Times.

“Following roughly two decades of prosperity and economic growth as a result of our strong partnership, it was an honor to meet with President Yoon to reflect on the valued friendship between both our state and nation, and the incredible opportunities it has helped create for both our people,” Kemp said in a statement.

A former prosecutor, Yoon was elected as the nominee of the right-wing People Power Party in 2022. He served as the nation’s prosecutor general from 2019 to 2021. His party, which was already in the minority, lost further ground to the rival Democratic Party in South Korea’s legislative elections earlier this year.

Kemp and a 15-person delegation, including Georgia state lawmakers and economic recruiters, have been meeting with companies with large operations in Georgia, including Hyundai Motor Group, LG Group, SK Group, Hanwha Qcells and CJ Foodville.

Hyundai is building a $7.6 billion automotive assembly complex near Savannah, with LG Group building a battery plant there. SK Group owns a battery plant in Commerce and is building a plant to make semiconductor materials in Covington, while Hyundai and SK are jointly building a $5 billion batter plant in Cartersville. Hanwha Qcells owns solar panel plants in Dalton and Cartersville. CJ Foodville is building a bakery in Gainesville.

It’s Kemp’s sixth official trip abroad as governor. He went to South Korea in 2019, Germany in 2020, Israel in May 2023 and the nation of Georgia and France in June 2023. He also attended the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, in January 2023 and 2024.

The Biden-Harris campaign opened an office in Brunswick, according to The Brunswick News.

Brunswick Mayor Cosby Johnson was among the speakers at the Saturday opening of a local office for President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris’s reelection campaign.

He used the story of Jesus Christ as an allegory. Jesus could have gone to Rome and spoken with the leaders of the empire at the time if he wanted, Johnson said, but he chose to come into the work in the small town of Bethlehem and selected 12 disciples to help him spread the Gospels and change the world.

Johnson also criticized Donald Trump, Biden’s Republican opponent in the presidential election, for working during his last term in office to get established Republican elected officials in Georgia ousted by supporting competing candidates in the Republican primaries. One was Republican Gov. Brian Kemp. Because of this, the decision between Biden and Trump should not be one made along party lines, Johnson said.

Brunswick City Commissioner Kendra Rolle urged residents to support the sitting president’s campaign, especially young people. If they feel disenfranchised or upset with the state of modern politics, Rolle said to remember that “this is our country and the Democratic party is our party.”

Glynn County Democrats Chairwoman Olga McKenzie criticized Trump’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the act of clearing protestors from Lafayette Square in 2020 so he could take a photo in front of a church that was damaged during the protests.

Glynn County GOP Chairman Patrick Duncan said the Trump campaign had not yet opened a local office as of Monday, but that it will have boots on the ground in the lead-up to the campaign. Whether that will be in a physical office space was undecided, he said.

Vice President Kamala Harris visits Atlanta today, according to the AJC.

Vice President Kamala Harris will headline a Juneteenth Block Party for her reelection bid during a stop in Atlanta on Tuesday, her second visit to Georgia’s capital in less than a week.

The vice president will attend the party shortly after she holds a conversation with Quavo at the hip-hop star’s summit to stop gun violence. The Juneteenth event will also launch the opening of a new campaign office in Atlanta, officials said.

Chatham County Sheriff John T. Wilcher remains hospitalized, according to WTOC.

“Amy and I are sending prayers for a swift recovery to Sheriff Wilcher and Dorothy,” said Rep. Buddy Carter.

“We at the Bulloch County Sheriff’s Office want to lift up Sheriff John Wilcher during this challenging time. We pray for restoration and strength and healing to his body. We also pray for wisdom to the medical team caring for him, and comfort for him and his family. We consider him and his office family, and we surround them with love and support,” said the Bulloch County Sheriff’s Office.

“Sending up prayers for Sheriff Wilcher and for a speedy and full recovery. He’s a good man, our county sure needs him. God bless,” said Senator Ben Watson.

“Our thoughts and well wishes are with Sheriff John T. Wilcher and his family during this challenging time. May he experience a swift and complete recovery,” said the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office.

“We are soliciting the prayers and well-wishes of the #Savannah community for Sheriff John Wilcher’s recovery. We know that prayer works, and we lift up Sheriff Wilcher’s family and the Chatham County Sheriff’s Office during this time,” said Mayor Van Johnson.

As of Monday afternoon, WTOC talked to county staff that said Sheriff Wilcher is showing signs of improvement, but there still hasn’t been detailed information released about his condition.

“He is showing signs of improvement today, but he’s still critical. Prayer is a thing we can ask folks for right now,” said Chatham County Board of Commissioners, Chairman Chester Ellis

Republican candidate for Muscogee County Sheriff Mark Lajoye apologized for comments he made about the son of current Muscogee County Sheriff Greg Countryman Sr., according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

Sheriff candidate Mark Lajoye issued an apology via his campaign’s Facebook page.

“I recently published false and defamatory statements regarding Greg Countryman, Jr. I falsely accused Mr. Countryman, of speeding, illegally using public vehicles, violating Georgia law, and incompetence,” Lajoye’s statement read. “None of these statements were true, and I recklessly published them without making sure.”

The statement continued, “I was wrong and should not have said these things. I deeply apologize for any pain or embarrassment I have caused Mr. Countryman and his family.”

This is Lajoye’s fifth time running for sheriff. Lajoye lost to Countryman Sr. in 2020, Donna Tompkins in 2016, to John Darr in 2012 and again to Darr in 2008 as a write-in candidate.

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