The Jolt: A tough night for Democratic incumbents, and a few Republican ones, too

On Tuesday evening, we told you that 45% of early voters in the Democratic primary were largely strangers -- who hadn't participated in the 2016 or 2018 statewide primaries.

On the Republican side, the figure was 26%.

We quoted Mark Rountree of Landmark Communications, who said the influx of new voters could spell trouble for incumbents. He was right.

One Democratic congressman and the Democratic district attorney of Fulton County have been drawn into primary runoffs. At least one GOP state lawmaker has been ousted.

>>RESULTS: Georgia election results

>>PHOTOS: Georgia voters struggle with long lines, new equipment

Election results on the website of Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger are still lagging this morning, but the Associated Press has a running tally of highlights that we can share with you -- but keep in mind that returns are incomplete:

-- In the Democratic race for U.S. Senate, it looks like Jon Ossoff (48.6%) will meet Teresa Tomlinson (14.8%) in an Aug. 11 runoff, but there are yet votes to be counted. And Sarah Riggs Amico isn’t too far behind Tomlinson. The winner would face GOP incumbent David Perdue.

-- Former congresswoman Karen Handel easily won the GOP nomination for the Sixth District. She’ll face U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath, D-Marietta.

-- On the GOP side of the Seventh District congressional race, Dr. Rich McCormick (55%) easily swept past state Sen. Renee Unterman (17%).

-- On the Democratic side of the Seventh District race: Carolyn Bourdeaux (46%) looks to be headed for a runoff with Brenda Lopez Romero (14.5%). There are more votes to be counted and Nabilah Islam is running a close third.

State Sen. Zahra Karinshak, D-Duluth, had a disappointing night. She finished sixth, despite a glut of spending on TV ads.

-- In the crowded Republican primary for the Ninth District congressional seat currently held by U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, R-Gainesville, two veteran state lawmakers, Kevin Tanner and John Wilkinson, were knocked out. A third, Matt Gurtler (22%) of Tiger, will face Andrew Clyde (19%) in a runoff.

-- In one of the bigger surprises of the night, U.S. Rep. David Scott (47%) of Atlanta has been drawn into a Democratic primary runoff against former state lawmaker Keisha Wates (31%).

-- In the GOP race for the 14th District seat currently held by U.S. Rep. Tom Graves, R-Ranger, Marjorie Taylor Greene (40%) will be in a runoff with John Cowan (20%).

A Georgia Supreme Court race:

-- In a highly contested state Supreme court race: Incumbent Charlie Bethel (53%) has apparently fended off former GOP state lawmaker Beth Beskin (47%).

State legislative races:

-- In the GOP primary for state Senate District 21, incumbent Brandon Beach (58%) of Alpharetta has fended off a challenge from state Rep. Michael Caldwell of Woodstock.

-- In the GOP race for Senate District 23, a seat now held by Jesse Stone, R-Waynesboro, former congressman Max Burns (54%) will face Democrat Ceretta Smith in November.

-- In the GOP race for Senate District 31, a seat being given up by Bill Heath of Bremen, Boyd Austin (40%) will face Jason Anavitarte in a runoff.

-- In Senate District 38, Democratic incumbent Horacena Tate (45%) has been drawn into a runoff with Tania Robinson (31%).

-- In House District 57, Democrat Stacey Evans, an unsuccessful 2018 candidate for governor, will be returning to the state Capitol. She won 58.67% of the vote in a race for an open seat. Former Atlanta city council member Alex Wan finished second with 27.97%

-- In House District 65, Democrat Sharon Beasley-Teague is headed for a runoff with Mandisha Thomas, 46.59% to 39.81%.

-- In House District 42, incumbent Teri Anulewicz, D-Smyrna, remains in a nail-biter with primary challenger Asher Nuckolls.

-- In House District 71, which includes Coweta County and a slice of Fayette County, Republican incumbent Phil Singleton (59%) has beaten back a second challenge from Marci Westmoreland Sakrison. He’ll face Democrat Jill Prouty in November.

-- In House District 86, longtime incumbent Michelle Henson (37%) of Stone Mountain has been drawn into a Democratic primary runoff with Zulma Lopez (30%).

-- In House District 111, Democratic incumbent El-Mahdi Holly (42%) of Stockbridge has been defeated by Tarji Dunn (58%).

-- In House District 167, former state lawmaker Buddy DeLoach (58%) defeated GOP incumbent Jeff Jones of Brunswick.


-- Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard has apparently been drawn into a runoff with his former chief deputy, Fani Willis. Willis is currently ahead of Howard with 40.5% of the vote to Howard’s 33.8%.

-- Cobb County Commission Chairman Mike Boyce has easily pushed past two GOP primary challengers and will face fellow commissioner Lisa Cupid in November.


Visit the AJC elections page for full coverage of the primary results and the voting issues Georgians faced.


Stacey Abrams held a virtual press conference on Tuesday evening to blast state officials for the issues at the polls, and she indicated legal action was under consideration.

The Democrat rejected Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger’s efforts to blame county operations -- Fulton County in particular, where long lines forced thousands of voters to wait for hours in the heat and rain.

“It is not sufficient to say that the county you live in determines the quality of your democracy,” she said. “ That's why we have the secretary of the entire state -- not just the counties that do it right, not just the counties that have the resources, not just the counties that he likes.”

Abrams said she requested an absentee ballot but it arrived with the return envelope already sealed and she was unable to get a replacement. She voted in person at a precinct where she waited in line about 45 minutes, which was relatively quick compared to other Fulton County locations.

“All I can think about are the people who did not receive their ballot , who were forced instead into hours-long lines, and not because they failed to do their part but because the Secretary of State’s office failed to properly manage this election,” she said.

With the problems Tuesday, combined with long lines during early voting, Abrams said her Fair Fight Action organization has been collecting stories and contemplating legal action.

“Unfortunately, in Georgia,” she said, “sometimes conversation and goodwill don’t work, and so litigation becomes a necessary next step.”


In an appearance on Fox News this morning, U.S. Rep. Doug Collins placed the blame for Tuesday's long lines at the polls on county elections officials -- and not the state's new equipment. Although he didn't use names, the Gainesville Republican and U.S. Senate candidate said the problems are too often repeated in the same place.

"We just have to do better planning and better training," he said. "And it seems like we always in Georgia seem to come up with the same counties, in the same areas, with the same problems no matter what the machines are."


On Tuesday, the New York Times posted a video plea from Wanda Cooper-Jones, mother of Ahmaud Arbery, the 25-year-old black man who was gunned down as he jogged through a neighborhood on the Georgia coast. Three white men have been charged in connection with his Feb. 23 death.

The mother’s plea was directed at the Georgia General Assembly. She wants a hate crimes bill passed when state lawmakers return on Monday:

House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, and the state’s business community have urged quick passage of House Bill 426, a hate crimes measure authored by state Rep. Chuck Efstration, R-Dacula, by the state Senate. The bill passed the House in 2019, but has never received a committee hearing.

This morning, Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan, who presides over the state Senate, was on CNN. He said this:

"Over the last four or five weeks, I've decided to become a subject-matter expert. I've asked a lot of question. I've brought in members of the African American community, members of the Democratic party into may office, and asked them, 'What's the best way to move forward?'

"And quite honestly, I think we can do better than House Bill 426. I've been told by an African American gentleman sitting in my office that House Bill 426, if passed, would be the weakest hate crimes law in the country. And quite honestly, that's not good enough…

"We have 11 days to craft a hate crimes bill that will make Georgia the worst place to commit a hate crime, and the best place to love your neighbor."


U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, R-Gainesville, a candidate for the U.S. Senate, signed a U.S. Term Limits pledge Wednesday to support a constitutional amendment limiting the terms of politicians. He also said he would limit himself to two full terms in the Senate if he wins in November.

Collins is challenging fellow Republican and U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler, who has also signed the pledge to support the amendment, although she has not said whether she would limit her own tenure in office regardless of whether the measure passed.