Several Georgia congressional races headed to August runoffs

A box of mail-in ballots in Fulton County submitted for the 2020 primary election. (ALYSSA POINTER / ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM)
A box of mail-in ballots in Fulton County submitted for the 2020 primary election. (ALYSSA POINTER / ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM)

U.S. Rep. David Scott faced the toughest fight of all Georgia's congressional incumbents in the state's primary.

Votes are still being counted, leaving Scott in a tight race in Georgia's 13th District, one of a handful of congressional districts across the state that could be headed for runoffs. The others are Republican primaries for open seats in congressional districts 9 and 14 and Democrats in District 7.

Scott, a Democrat from Atlanta, could face former state Rep. Keisha Sean Waites in August. She campaigned on her experience in the General Assembly, as a disaster response and small-business consultant for the federal government, and a small-business owner.

“I’m a fierce advocate for people,” she said during a recent interview on Facebook. “You don’t see me during the election year; you see me all year ‘round.”

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Four other sitting congressmen won their primaries outright: U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter, a Republican in the 1st District; U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson, a Democrat in the 4th District; U.S. Rep. John Lewis, a Democrat in the 5th District; and Republican U.S. Rep. Austin Scott in the 8th District.

With counties in metro Atlanta still counting ballots, Democratic candidates in the 7th District are holding out hope that additional votes improve their chance at making the runoff.

It appears that Carolyn Bourdeaux has cemented a runoff spot for herself in the competitive district covering parts of Forsyth and Gwinnett counties. But several other Democrats said it was too soon to determine the other candidate.

Just a few hundred votes separated state Rep. Brenda Lopez Romero and activist Nabilah Islam, and several other candidates were close behind. The Associated Press said early Wednesday morning that Lopez Romero had made the runoff.

She responded with an email blast at 4:02 a.m. that said, “WE ARE ONE STEP CLOSER TO CONGRESS.” Islam and her supporters said the celebration was premature.

“All across Georgia, people stood in lines for hours and hours,” she said. “The least we can do, after their tremendous efforts, is guarantee that their voice will be fully heard and their votes counted.”

Whoever wins in the Democratic contest will face emergency room physician Rich McCormick in the general election.

McCormick had faced accusations that he was not loyal enough to President Donald Trump, but he focused on building support across the district and led the field in fundraising during the most recent reporting period.

He also focused on his service both as a physician in an Atlanta hospital attending to COVID-19 patients and previously in the Marines and Navy, including tours of duty overseas. McCormick attended the Morehouse School of Medicine, where his peers elected him student body president.

‘Tonight’s election results prove that our community wants new, conservative leadership,” the Republican said. “With faith, hard work and trust in the electorate, our campaign exceeded all expectations.”

State Rep. Matt Gurtler and Andrew Clyde, the owner of a gun store, made it to the Republican runoff in Georgia's 9th Congressional District. There is also a Democratic runoff between Army veteran Devin Pandy and small-business owner Brooke Siskin.

The northeast Georgia district is considered a Republican stronghold. The seat was left open this year after U.S. Rep. Doug Collins announced that he will challenge U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler in November’s special election.

Gurtler’s campaign believes his conservative track record helped him appeal to voters in the district. In contrast, Clyde has never run for political office. He said on Twitter that he is the choice for voters who don’t want a career politician.

In northwest Georgia’s 14th District, construction executive Marjorie Taylor Greene and neurosurgeon John Cowan have advanced to the Republican runoff. U.S. Rep. Tom Graves’ surprise retirement created the state’s final open seat.

Greene’s campaign manager said she was able to draw voters in with her conservative ideals and outgoing personality.

“They see her, she’s just like them,” Isaiah Wartman said. “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.”

Cowan lives and works in Rome. He has not run for public office before and owns multiple businesses. His deep roots in northwest Georgia drew voters to him, campaign manager Spencer Hogg said.

“John is the hometown candidate,” Hogg said. “There were a lot of great people running, and we are looking forward to unifying the district.”

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