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Georgia voters return to the polls Tuesday to settle runoffs for Congress, state Legislature


Georgia voters return to the polls Tuesday to settle runoffs for Congress, state Legislature

Jun 18, 2024 | 3:00 am ET
By Jill Nolin
Georgia voters return to the polls Tuesday to settle runoffs for Congress, state Legislature
Georgians will go to the polls Tuesday, June 18 to settle primary races that went to runoffs after May's elections. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

How influential is a Trump endorsement in 2024? Will southwest Georgia Republicans advance a congressional candidate convicted of a Jan. 6 offense to the November election?

Those are two of the big questions lingering as voters across the state head to the polls Tuesday to settle two GOP congressional runoffs, eight legislative races and a smattering of local races.

Polls across the state are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday. 

The marquee match-up is playing out in west Georgia as voters choose the successor for outgoing Congressman Drew Ferguson.

Brian Jack was the top vote-getter last month with nearly 47% of the vote, coming close to winning the five-way race outright. Jack was an aide for former President Donald Trump and has Trump’s endorsement in the race.

Jack is up against former state Senate Majority Leader Mike Dugan. The Carrollton Republican finished last month with about 25% of the vote.

The winner of the runoff will go into the Nov. 5 general election as the heavy favorite to represent the district in the U.S. Congress.

Another congressional GOP runoff is underway in a sprawling southwest Georgia district that begins in Macon and stretches down to the Florida line.

That race had been relatively low key before last month’s second place finisher, Chuck Hand, attracted national attention for abruptly walking out of the Atlanta Press Club’s recent debate just minutes after it started inside Georgia Public Broadcasting’s Atlanta studio.

Hand, a construction superintendent, won 32% of the vote in last month’s first round of voting. He trailed former Trump administration official Wayne Johnson, who won nearly 45% of the vote.

Hand is one of at least four people convicted of Jan. 6 offenses running for Congress this year. He has been open about his role in the breach of the U.S. Capitol as Congress worked to certify the results of the 2020 presidential election, saying he and wife were there as “peaceful, nonviolent protesters.”

But some of his rivals have accused him of basing his campaign on Jan. 6 while raising questions about how peaceful he intended to be that day when he entered the Capitol.

Johnson has fended off criticism for not living in the district, though he says he lives near the district boundary line. The Macon businessman, who says his residence is near the district boundary line, argues that he employs people and owns properties in the district. He has said he will move to a home he owns in Plains if elected, though it is not required.

The Republican winner will go into the fall as the underdog when he goes up against longtime Congressman Sanford Bishop, an Albany Democrat, in the Democratic leaning district.

On the Democratic side, there is a primary runoff in northwest Georgia’s 14th congressional district featuring Clarence Blalock and Shawn “General” Harris, who evenly split the vote last month. But the GOP incumbent, Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene of Rome, is the heavy favorite to win in November. 

There are also eight unsettled legislative primaries after no candidate clinched 50% of the vote in last month’s election, with some candidates barely falling short of that threshold.

Tuesday’s legislative runoffs feature two intraparty fights from both sides of the aisle, including a race for a metro Atlanta Senate seat that has opened up for the first time in two decades and a coastal matchup where a GOP House incumbent is fighting to keep his seat.