Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 22, 2024


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 22, 2024

The War of the Roses began on May 22, 1455 at St. Albans, northwest of London.

In the opening battle of England’s War of the Roses, the Yorkists defeat King Henry VI’s Lancastrian forces at St. Albans, 20 miles northwest of London. Many Lancastrian nobles perished, including Edmund Beaufort, the duke of Somerset, and the king was forced to submit to the rule of his cousin, Richard of York. The dynastic struggle between the House of York, whose badge was a white rose, and the House of Lancaster, later associated with a red rose, would stretch on for 30 years.

First Lady Martha Dandridge Custis Washington died on May 22, 1802.

On May 22, 1819, the steamship Savannah left the port of Savannah for Liverpool, England. After 29 days, it became the first steamship to cross the Atlantic. On May 22, 1944, the United States Postal Service issued a stamp commemorating the voyage of the Savannah.

On May 22, 1856, Congressman Preston Brooks of South Carolina beat Massachusetts Senator Charles Sumner with his cane. Brooks used the cane as the result of injury sustained in a previous duel, and found Sumner at his desk in the Senate Chamber. In the course of a two-day Senate speech on the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which would have nullified the Missouri Compromise on the expansion of slavery, Sumner had criticized three legislators, including a cousin of Rep. Brooks, Senator Andrew Butler of South Carolina.

On May 22, 1932, New York Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt gave the commencement address for Oglethorpe University at the Fox Theater in Atlanta.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Dougherty County voters turned out at low rates, according to WALB.

“In Dougherty County, they had about 5.7 percent of voters show up which is a little bit behind the state average of only 7.9 percent. But there are some smaller counties in your area there like Schley — they’ve got nearly 30 percent of voters showing up. I think they’ve got a hot sheriff’s race. So it goes from county to county but statewide it’s been pretty slow so we’re hoping for a big turnout Tuesday,” said Gabe Sterling, Chief Operating Officer at the Georgia Secretary of State.

Sterling says the March Presidential Preference Primary brought out over two million voters statewide. He says with this being smaller state and local elections, his office hopes to reach at least a million voters statewide for this election.

Voters in Muscogee and Chattahoochee Counties passed Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax for Education (E-SPLOST) referenda, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

Columbus area voters in Muscogee and Chattahoochee counties voted in favor of requests from their school districts Tuesday to continue 1% sales taxes to pay for more capital projects according to unofficial results on the Georgia Secretary of State’s website. Here are the results of those referendums.

This tax is called an ESPLOST, an acronym for Education Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax.

With all 25 Muscogee County precincts reporting, the yes votes totaled 11,153 (63%), and the no votes totaled 6,479 (37%).

The referendum asked voters whether to continue the 1% sales tax to fund Muscogee County School District capital projects another five years or until $290 million is collected.

With the lone Chattahoochee County precinct reporting, the yes votes totaled 484 (80%), and the no votes totaled 123 (20%).

“We are quite excited with the outcome and very humbled by the continual support of our community,” ChattCo superintendent Kristie Brooks told the L-E in a text message. “Cusseta and Fort Moore consistently partner with our three ChattCo schools. This renewal is very important as it helps us prepare for growth and future buildings.”

The ESPLOST referendum in Chattahoochee County asked voters to approve continuing the 1% sales tax for another five years or until $6.5 million is collected for capital projects[.]

Two of the leads in the Fulton County Trump trial won their elections and will return to the circus. From the Associated Press via the Dalton Daily Citizen News:

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, the Georgia prosecutor who brought a sprawling racketeering case against former President Donald Trump and others, has won the Democratic primary in her bid for reelection.

Willis defeated progressive attorney Christian Wise Smith in the primary election and is now set to face off against Republican Courtney Kramer in the fall. Willis told reporters after her victory that the voters sent a message that “people want a DA that is just, that treats everybody equally and that works hard, and they know that they have that in me.”

Meanwhile, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee, the judge who was randomly assigned to preside over the election interference case, also fended off a challenger, winning a nonpartisan election to keep his seat.

“The people said yes to justice. The people said yes to safety. The people said yes to integrity. The people said yes to Fani Willis,” Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens said to applause Tuesday night at Willis’ victory party.

McAfee has been on the bench since last year when Republican Gov. Brian Kemp appointed him to fill an empty seat. He has since become one of the most high-profile judges in Georgia since he was randomly assigned last year to preside over the election interference case. With the added advantages of incumbency, strong bipartisan backing from heavy hitters and an impressive fundraising haul, he was the likely favorite to win.

Georgia Supreme Court Justice Andrew Pinson returns to the bench having won his election, according to the Associated Press via the Dalton Daily Citizen News.

Georgia state Supreme Court Justice Andrew Pinson has defeated a challenge from former U.S. Rep. John Barrow in the general election for judicial candidates, who run without party labels.

The 37-year-old Pinson wins a six-year term after Gov. Brian Kemp appointed him to the nine-member court in 2022. The 69-year-old Barrow made support for abortion rights central to his campaign. Pinson said discussing issues would weaken confidence that he could judge fairly, and he warned of making judicial campaigns too political.

“Tonight the voters of Georgia voiced their desire for a fair and impartial judiciary,” Pinson said in a statement.

Kemp and other conservatives intervened to aid Pinson in a race that grew heated by the usually sleepy standards of Georgia’s judicial elections. Barrow unsuccessfully sued in federal court, saying a state judicial agency was violating his free-speech rights. The agency warned Barrow his claim that Georgians have a right to abortion under the state constitution might be violating judicial ethics. Barrow, in a statement after his loss, said he remains committed to his view that the Georgia Constitution protects abortion rights.

“The people who have spoken up on the issue of abortion rights agree with me, and so the issue remains to be decided, first by the Supreme Court and ultimately by the people,” Barrow said in a statement.

Justices Michael Boggs, John Ellington and Nels Peterson were unopposed. Six judges on the Georgia Court of Appeals are also unopposed, while Jeff Davis beat Tabitha Ponder for an open seat on the court.`

Republican State Rep. Steven Sainz (St Marys) was forced into a Primary Runoff Election, according to The Brunswick News.

As of 9 p.m., Republican incumbent Rep. Steven Sainz, St. Marys, narrowly missed the 50% threshold to avoid a runoff in the state House District 180 race. He earned 49.68% of the vote, 3,074 votes. Fellow Republicans Glenn Cook and David Rainer earned 1,673 votes and 1,440 votes respectively.

Sainz will face Cook in a runoff on June 18. The winner will face Democrat Defonsio Daniels in the November General Election.

Some provisional, absentee and overseas service member votes remained to be counted in Glynn County, but Elections and Registration Director Chris Channel said they would not be enough to change any of the results.

In the Republican primary race for Glynn County School Board District 1, Jeff Dodgen squeaked by with 771 votes, just over opponent Mark Newman’s 735 votes.

Incumbent Democrat Audrey Gibbons fared well against Shawn Brown, earning 383 votes to Brown’s 161 for the Glynn County School Board District 5 seat.

In the JWSC race, Bill Edgy will face Stacey Grace in a runoff as neither crossed the 50% threshold. They received 3,877 and 2,366 respectively.

Incumbent State Court Solicitor Maria Lugue clinched another term of office by earning 5,537 votes to Wrix McIlvaine’s 2,895.

State Senator Ben Watson (R-Savannah) defeated his primary challenger, according to the Savannah Morning News.

District 1 State Senator Ben Watson won reelection Tuesday night after drawing a primary opponent for the first time during his tenure in the Georgia Senate.

Watson defeated conservative activist Beth Majeroni, known widely for her role as education chairwoman for Ladies on the Right and her advocacy to remove “obscene” books from school libraries. Watson carried 60% of the district’s vote. With no Democrat qualified in the race, Watson will begin his 11th year in the Georgia Legislature next year.

“I am confident in what we have done, and the results are very promising,” Watson said in an interview earlier in the night.

Watson said his approach during this year’s legislative session did not change due to the primary. Watson said in another term he is looking forward to continuing legislating with a Republican Senate Caucus that works well together.

Republican Carmen Rice won the Republican Primary for House District 139, according to WRBL.

Former Muscogee County Republican Party Chairman Carmen Rice overcame long odds and significant financial disadvantage to beat Columbus businessman Sean Knox in Tuesday’s Republican primary.

The Georgia Secretary of State reports Rice won 57 to 43 percent. She had 2,202 votes to 1,678 for Knox.

Rice won a special election two weeks ago to claim the job for the rest of the year. Knox outspent Rice by more than $100,000 dollars, but all of that money did not translate into a victory in a deeply conservative district.

“So, I credit that to I really got out and whether it was in groups, small groups and community groups or it was that door to door is talking to the people in the county, getting out that face to face time with them,” said Rice. “And I think that pulled the vote in. That was my favorite part of the campaign, was getting to know people hear about their concerns because if I’m going there to work for them, I need to hear their concerns firsthand.”

Rice was the top vote-getter in Harris and Muscogee counties.

The seat has not seen a lot of turnover for almost six decades. It has been held by two people Tom Buck and Richard Smith. Both were influential and powerful state legislators.

Noah Harbuck was elected Republican nominee for House District 145, according to the Macon Telegraph.

Noah Harbuck has won the Republican nomination for a Georgia State House representative seat in District 145, which covers a portion of Bibb County, according to the Associated Press.

The AP called the race in Harbuck’s favor at 10:44 p.m. Tuesday. Harbuck defeated Nancy Hicks and DeRon Rogers in the race. He will face off against the Democratic Party winner in November, a race that hadn’t been decided as of 12:30 a.m. Wednesday.

State Rep. David Sampson (D-Albany) is projected to have won his Primary election, according to WALB.

Sampson got 57.88% of the votes. He will now head to the general elections in November to face off against Republican candidate, Brenda Battle.




Pulaski County Sheriff Danny Brannen was defeated and will watch two challengers in a Runoff Election, according to 13WMAZ.

After three terms in office, voters ousted Pulaski County Sheriff Danny Brannen from office, with voters sending Wayne Wiley and Terry Hood to a run-off. It comes after Gov. Brian Kemp’s office announced they were looking into Brannen’s fitness for office in March 2023.

In total, four candidates entered the ring in hopes of replacing Brannen. He was challenged by Amanda Vaughn, Greg Hattaway, Terry Hood and Wayne Wiley.

The pair of challengers that will head to a runoff include Hood, who is a deputy sheriff and Wayne Wiley, a retired Georgia State Patrol trooper.

The board of elections recorded over 1900 ballots for the sheriff’s race both candidates want to protect the children in the community.

People in Pulaski County can expect to see these two candidates working their campaign the next four weeks for the June 18 runoff.

Lee County Sheriff Reggie Rachals won the Republican Primary and another four-year term, according to WALB.

Rachals won every precinct, with over 2,000 votes.

He says he’s not surprised that he won the election because of all the hard work that he and his team have done over the years.

“I got a good crew, I got employees that work under me that do a good job every one of them,” Rachals said. “Working well together getting things done especially as tight as it has been here working at the sheriff’s office but it ain’t just in Lee County though.”

Democrat Terron Hayes won the primary for Dougherty County Sheriff and will take office unopposed in the general election, according to the Albany Herald.

The Dougherty County Sheriff’s Office’s current chief deputy mounted a spirited — and friendly — battle with Albany State University Police Officer Keithen Hall in Tuesday’s Dougherty County Democratic primary election to claim the office. Hayes outpolled Hall 4,594 votes to 3,349 to win the primary race.

Since there is no Republican candidate running for the office, held for the last four decades-plus by Kevin Sproul, Hayes becomes the county’s sheriff-elect.

– Wayne Johnson and Chuck Hand are headed for an apparent runoff in the U.S. House District 2 Republican primary after Johnson claimed 593 votes to Hand’s 405 in the four-candidate race.

– Incumbent District Attorney Gregory Edwards easily outdistanced challenger Elizabeth Gibson, 5,490-2,545, to retain his seat.

Macon-Bibb County Sheriff David Davis was reelected for another term, according to 13WMAZ.

After months of campaigning, voters entrusted incumbent Bibb County Sheriff David Davis with another term, coming off a challenging term for Davis that included four inmates escaping from the Bibb County jail back in October.

Since there are no republican challengers, David Davis will be the next sheriff of Macon-Bibb County and will lead the department for the next four years.

Here’s how Macon-Bibb County residents voted:

David Davis: 61%, (8,815)
DeAndre Hall: 17%, (2,456)
Chris Paterson: 12%, (1,751)
Chris Paul: 10%, (1,391)

Davis says he owes his success to the voters.

“I really appreciate the voters for returning me to office against three opponents. So, I’m very encouraged, I’m very grateful and very pleased by having this opportunity to serve for four more years,” he said.

Two candidates hoping to be on the ballot — Marshall Hughes and Ron Rodgers — were disqualified in a 3-2 vote after the Macon-Bibb County Board of Elections found they failed to get fingerprinted by the statutory deadline. That is an additional requirement for sheriff that other offices in Georgia don’t have.

Chatham County District Attorney Shalena Cook Jones won her Democratic Primary, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Voters handed incumbent Shalena Cook Jones a resounding victory in the May 21 Democratic primary for Chatham County District Attorney with 73.1% of the vote. Her opponent, former Assistant District Attorney Jenny Parker, garnered 4,347 votes, or 26.90%, of the overall tally.

Jones will face Republican Andre Pretorius, a former deputy chief assistant for the Chatham County State Court. He works now on a part-time basis as an attorney for Chatham County government.

Brunswick Judicial Circuit District Attorney Keith Higgins won his Republican primary, according to The Brunswick News.

Republican incumbent Keith Higgins won handily over challenger John B. Johnson III, and he faces no Democratic opponents in the November General Election.

Higgins took the decisive lead as of 9 p.m. at 11,838 votes. Johnson earned 6,445 as of 9 p.m.

Richard Coleman won the Democratic Primary for Chatham County Sheriff and heads to the November General Election against incumbent Sheriff John Wilcher, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Coleman garnered 8,802 votes, or 53.93% of the vote. He ran on a platform of crime prevention efforts.

Coleman said his plans heading into the November 2024 election involved “just keep going strong. Increase the campaign. Probably gonna do a little more fundraising, so we could do a little more advertising.”

His opponent Wilcher has a formidable campaign warchest. He replaced six-term sheriff Al St. Lawrence, who died in office in 2015. Seven months after winning a special election for the seat, Wilcher was elected to a full term and re-elected in 2020.

Chatham County Coroner David Campbell swept the Democratic Primary, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Incumbent David Campbell won the three-way contest for the May 21 Democratic primary for the Chatham County Coroner, according to 2024 Chatham County Election Results.

Campbell garnered 10,582 votes, or 65.68%, and more than 6,764 votes than his nearest challenger, J. Vernard Flowers.

Muscogee County Coroner Buddy Bryan was reelected handily in the Democratic Primary with 64% of votes cast, according to WTVM.

In Houston County, Matt Moulton won the Republican Primary for Sheriff, according to 13WMAZ.

After Houston County Sheriff Cullen Talton announced he was running for reelection last year, a number of republican candidates entered the picture, attempting to take the helm after Talton’s history-making five-decade-long tenure as sheriff.

But after the polls closed, Houston County Republican voters made their decision: Matt Moulton is the republican nominee and will take on Democrat Arthur Harris in the general election on Nov. 5.

“I think the voters were looking for someone with the attributes of leadership like Sheriff Talton has had for the last 52 years. He’s led the county well and lead the Sheriff’s Office well and I think they were looking for someone that was able to do what he’s done,” Moulton said.

Matt Moulton is a lieutenant for the sheriff’s office. He was endorsed by Talton earlier this year. Matt Moulton said his uncle, who served as a Bibb County Deputy, inspired him as a kid. Now, Moulton wants to carry on the legacy of the longest-serving sheriff of Houston County, Cullen Talton.

Scott Nelson was elected Sheriff of Schley County in the Republican Primary, according to WTVM.

William Whitesell won election to Superior Court for the Southern Judicial Circuit, which serves Brooks, Colquitt, Echols, Lowndes and Thomas counties, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

Valdosta attorney William Whitesell overcame Valdosta Municipal Court Judge Jeremy Baker to become the next judge of Superior Court in the Southern Judicial Circuit.

Whitesell will replace Judge Richard M. Cowart, who announced in January that he would not seek another term on the bench.`

Christopher Middleton won the nonpartisan election for an open seat on Chatham County Superior Court, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Defense attorney Christopher Middleton bested Assistant U.S. Attorney Frank Pennington during the May 21 primary for the Chatham County Superior Court bench left vacant by retiring Judge Penny Freesemann.

Since 2018, Middleton has served as Judge Pro Tem in Chatham County’s Recorder’s Court and Juvenile Court. “I don’t even know what to say,” Middleton said outside of his campaign watch party at Aqua Vitae Lounge, 719 E. 65 Street as the final results filtered in. “This has been a long journey. I would not have been able to do it alone.”

Middleton received 60.50% of the vote. “People believed in me, and the voters spoke that with their vote. So, my job at this point is to not let them down.”

Two elections for the vacant seat on Columbus City Council At-Large District 10 go to a runoff, according to WTVM.

A run-off election, set for June 18, will feature candidates Travis Chambers and John Anker, who garnered the most votes in the initial election.

Chambers garnered 44 percent of the vote but not enough to secure an outright win. Anker received 39 percent of the vote.

The results were the same for a special election for the District 10 city council seat. Chambers captured 44% of the vote to Anker’s 39% to fill the remaining term of John House.

With the upcoming run-off approaching, voters with another opportunity to cast their ballots and determine who will represent them on the Columbus City Council.

The election for Macon Water Authority Second District goes to a recount with a single vote difference, according to 13WMAZ.

With one vote separating incumbent Desmond Brown and challenger Marshall Talley, a contentious race for Macon Water Authority’s Second District is not over yet.

At the end of election day, Desmond Brown tentatively warded off a challenge from Marshall Talley by a single vote, but the road to victory is slightly more complicated.

Brown received 1,903 votes to Talley’s 1,902. But on Tuesday evening, Talley confirmed to 13WMAZ that he is asking for a recount.

“Really just shocked. It’s so tight — just one vote,” Talley told 13WMAZ. “I just want to make sure everything is right.”

The Macon-Bibb County Board of Elections says there are at least four ballots outstanding over technical issues, but election officials did not know whether the MWA race was on any of them.

Under Georgia law, candidates who lose by under 0.5% are legally eligible to ask for a recount. Because the razor-thin margin between Talley and Brown, Talley says he just wants to make sure everything is correct.

Glynn County Commissioner Walter Rafolski (R) won his three-way primary election, according to The Brunswick News.

Incumbent Glynn County Commissioner Walter Rafolski (R) avoided a runoff in the At-large Post 2 race in Tuesday’s primary elections.
Rafolski got 4,201 votes, or 64%, with Elizabeth Atkins getting 1,794 votes, or 27%, followed by Julian “Puddy” Smith with 627 votes, or 10%.

It was a different story in the other contested Glynn County Commission race. Republican Amy Abbott got 1,252 votes, or 40%, and will face Bob Duncan, who earned 1,232 votes or just under 40%. George Ragsdale got 621 votes in the three-candidate race.

There is no Democratic opposition for the At-large post or District 2 seat.

Bryan County Commission Chair Carter Infinger (R) was reelected in a low turnout primary, according to the Savannah Morning News.

According to results from the Effingham County Board of Elections, Damon Rahn received 3,103 votes while Alex Long received 2,890.

The race for county chairman in Bryan County saw Carter Infinger claim 2,617 votes while Buck Holly received 1,677, according to the Bryan County Board of Elections.

Low voter turnout in Bryan and Effingham counties was seen on Tuesday as some residents say a lack of trust for politicians pushes them away from the polls.

Effingham County, the largest of the two, has more than 70,000 residents but just 46,235 are registered to vote.

Out of that, only 7,434 took to the polls.

In Bryan County, just 5,205 residents voted out of the 31,905 registered to vote.

“I don’t vote,” said Pembroke resident Theresa Burnsed. “I’ve learned like a lot of people that politicians will tell you whatever they think you want to hear to get your vote, but once they’re in office, it’s all about that money. The ones we have now have already allowed big money companies to come in and ruin our little town. The arguing back and forth between candidates online is more ridiculous than having to listen to them argue on television.”

Macon-Bibb County Mayor Lester Miller won his Democratic primary and will serve four more years, according to 13WMAZ.

In a race between incumbent Macon-Bibb County Mayor Lester Miller and challenger Shekita Maxwell, the voter have decided: Mayor Miller has secured another four years as mayor of Macon-Bibb County, where he hopes to build on his successes from his first term.

Here are the vote tallies:

Lester Miller: 86%, (15,755 VOTES)
Shekita Maxwell: 14% (2,512 VOTES)

Macon-Bibb County is a consolidated county, meaning that the mayor of the city is also the mayor of the county. The political dynamics this term are likely to be shaken up as a number of commission members were unable to run for another term, meaning new faces are entering the Macon-Bibb county commission chambers.

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