Outcomes uncertain in a slew of federal primary races in Georgia

(Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)
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(Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

None of the most hotly contested congressional races in Georgia could be called Tuesday night, leaving most candidates waiting to see who would make the runoffs or whether any had won their primary outright.

A few favorites jumped out to early leads.

In the 6th District, former U.S. Rep. Karen Handel appeared on track to beat four other Republicans to set up a rematch with U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath in November.

Emergency room physician Rich McCormick had the most votes initially among seven Republicans in the 7th District, possibly even enough to avoid a runoff. On the Democratic side, Carolyn Bourdeaux was the early leader.

In the 9th District, state Rep. Matt Gurtler was leading a field of nine Republicans to replace U.S. Rep. Doug Collins. Andrew Clyde, a veteran who owns a small firearms business, was close behind. The two could end up in a runoff.

Businesswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene was at the front of a pack of candidates in the 14th District to replace retiring U.S. Rep. Tom Graves, R-Ranger. That GOP primary is likely headed to a runoff, too.

“We’re very optimistic, we’re feeling very good,” Greene campaign adviser Isaiah Wartman said. He thinks voters find a personal connection to Greene.

“They see her, she’s just like them. She’s very personable and she’s talking about the issues at hand, whether that is stopping socialism or standing up to China or stopping antifa from coming to northwest Georgia,” he said.

Gurtler’s campaign manager, Banks Wise, said the campaign was also “optimistic, but things can change.” He said that voters in the 9th District appreciated Gurtler’s conservative track record.

“He’s an honest person who stands for the principles that Republicans say they do, but he actually follows through,” Wise said.

All five incumbents who faced primary opponents appeared to be in good shape to, at the least, stay in the running for their seats. The Associated Press declared U.S. Reps. Buddy Carter, John Lewis and Austin Scott the winners in their primaries. U.S. Reps. Hank Johnson and David Scott both had early leads over their challengers.

Scott is hoping for a 10th term, although three other Democrats are attempting to unseat him in the 13th District.

In Georgia’s 7th District, candidates from both parties lined up to replace retiring U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall.

Bourdeaux narrowly lost to Woodall in 2018, when she said problems with the voting system and ballot counting may have cost her the election. She is running again, but now with five other Democrats in the primary.

Bourdeaux, who appeared to be headed to the runoff, said she was encouraged that Democratic voter turnout had surged past Republicans this year. But she began receiving calls early Tuesday morning from voters experiencing trouble at their precincts.

She called on Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to resign and said Georgia should establish a nonpartisan voter commission to improve confidence in its systems.

“I have been dealing with this for quite a while, and in the last race we litigated for weeks around voting problems,” she said. “It is outrageous, and we re sick of it.”

Even without a clear answer in the 6th District GOP primary, Handel and McBath continued to focus on one another. On Tuesday, McBath said there were issues with Handel’s performance as secretary of state during the 2008 election that mirror more recent concerns.

Handel responded on Twitter: “I’m proud of my work as GA’s Sec. of State. From Photo ID to successfully overseeing the 2008 Pres. election (with historic turnout), GA became a national model for voter integrity.”