Kevin Abel and Lucy McBath.

Georgia Democratic runoffs: What you need to know

Georgia Democratic voters are set to decide their party’s nominees in some major races on Tuesday’s runoff election. Here’s what to watch. 


Two Democrats are battling for the party nomination for Georgia schools superintendent, the state’s top k-12 educational post.

Sid Chapman, a former teacher and state advocate for educators, is competing against Otha Thornton, a former national advocate for parents. The pair emerged from a three-way primary election in May.

The winner will go on to the November general election to face incumbent Republican Richard Woods, a former teacher and school administrator concluding his first term as superintendent.

Chapman, 59, was, until his term ended in July, the president of the Georgia Association of Educators. Thornton, 50, was the first African-American man to serve as president of the National Parent Teachers Association. Both helped to defeat Deal’s proposed Opportunity School District in 2016, and both say public schools need more money, something Woods also has sought.


Many of the political dynamics playing out in the national Democratic Party are also prevalent in the north Atlanta suburbs, which is host to two congressional runoffs.

All four of the Democratic challengers facing off in the 6th and 7th district contests are first-time candidates who were inspired to run by the ascent of President Donald Trump. Lucy McBath and Kevin Abel in the 6th District and David Kim and Carolyn Bourdeaux in the 7th have tangled over their liberal credentials while also at least paying lip service to attracting moderates and Republicans. They all have endorsed enacting new gun control laws, protecting Obamacare and providing legal status to young immigrants who were brought to the U.S. illegally by their parents.

Each race also features a first- or second-generation immigrant facing off against a female candidate seeking to harness the current groundswell of civic activism among women. Both Bourdeaux, a Georgia State University professor, and McBath, a gun control activist, speak frequently about maintaining health care options for women. Abel and Kim, both businessmen, often discuss their experience living the American dream and the need to preserve those opportunities for other immigrants.

The winner of the 6th District contest will take on U.S. Rep. Karen Handel in the fall. The Roswell Republican won the seat, which represents portions of Cobb, Fulton and DeKalb counties, last summer following the most expensive congressional race of all time, and she’s fundraised heavily for her re-election bid this year.

In the 7th, Bourdeaux and Kim are facing off for the chance to oppose U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall in the district based in Gwinnett and Forsyth counties. Woodall is passionate about the budget and congressional procedure and has not faced a serious opponent since he was first elected in 2010.
How to vote in Georgia’s primaries

Election hours: Polling places are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on July 24 for the Republican Party and Democratic Party primary runoffs.

Where to vote on Election Day: Look up your voting information and view sample ballots on or through the GA SOS app for Apple and Android cellphones.

Who can vote: Any registered voter in Georgia can vote in the runoff election. Georgia has open primaries, which means voters can choose either party’s ballot without having to register with that party. However, if you voted in one party’s primary on May 22, you must vote in that runoff on Tuesday. Voters who didn’t vote in May can vote in either runoff.

Voter ID: Bring photo identification, such as a Georgia driver’s license, a state-issued voter identification card, a valid U.S. passport or a valid U.S. military photo ID.

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.