Voters guide

Headed to the polls this Tuesday? Here’s everything you need to know about metro Atlanta’s hottest races:

U.S. Senate

The race for Georgia’s open seat in the U.S. Senate is about as tight as it can be. Democrat Michelle Nunn, the CEO of the Points of Light foundation, and Republican David Perdue, a former corporate CEO, are battling for the seat now held by Republican Saxby Chambliss, who decided not to run for re-election. While Perdue has said unequivocally that he is running against President Barack Obama and Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nunn has stressed the importance of bipartisanship to end Washington gridlock. Meanwhile, Libertarian Amanda Swafford could throw the race into a runoff with her fiscally conservative, socially liberal platform.;; 


Gov. Nathan Deal, who hasn’t lost an election since he was running to lead his local Jaycees chapter in the 1970s, is in the fight of his life against Democratic challenger Jason Carter. Deal has an upbeat message that his jobs plans is working and that the economy has rebounded since he took office in 2011, but Georgia’s stubborn unemployment rate is complicating his pitch. Carter, a state senator from Atlanta and grandson of former President Jimmy Carter, promises to expand Medicaid and boost education funding. The third man in the mix is Libertarian Andrew Hunt, who touts limited government on fiscal and social issues.;;

Lieutenant Governor

Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle is running for his third term as the state’s second-in-command and faces a spirited if uphill challenge from Democrat Connie Stokes. Cagle, who has roughly $1.5 million socked away in his campaign war chest, is highlighting his support for education. Stokes, who once served in the state Senate with Cagle, is a former DeKalb County commissioner who has advocated for better economic policies and raising the minimum wage.;

Secretary of State

Incumbent Brian Kemp has led a state investigation into voter registration fraud from the New Georgia Project, which has submitted more than 85,000 voter applications this year. While fellow Republicans have supported the chief elections officer, Democrats say the investigation was politically motivated to deter turnout on Election Day. Doreen Carter, a former member of the Lithonia City Council, aims to increase voter access to the ballot box.;

Attorney General

Republican incumbent Sam Olens looks for another four years in office while Democrat Greg Hecht tries for the upset. Olens, first elected in 2010, is a former chairman of the Cobb County Commission who also led the Atlanta Regional Commission. Hecht is a former lawmaker and prosecutor from Clayton County. Olens has focused his first term on fighting Medicaid fraud, sex trafficking and prescription drug abuse. Hecht has promised to implement a plan to stop the deaths of children in foster care or under the watch of the state.;

Commissioner of Agriculture

Gary Black was elected as the state’s farms chief in 2010, but the Republican faces a challenge from the grandson of the man he replaced. That would be Democrat Chris Irvin, a Toccoa construction company and timber farm owner who seeks to recapture the seat of his forebear Tommy Irvin, who held the post for more than four decades. Black says he has modernized a department ridden with budget cuts and stone-age technology while protecting farmers’ interests. But Irvin believes state food safety and fuel pump inspectors have been curtailed, leading to more risk for consumers.;

Commissioner of Insurance and Fire Safety

Republican Ralph Hudgens has been a noted opponent of the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, while serving as the state’s regulatory executive of insurance. But Liz Johnson, his Democratic opponent, believes the health care law should be expanded to include more Medicaid recipients, a measure denied by Georgia’s Republican apparatus. Libertarian Ted Metz is running as well and opposes Obamacare. Whoever is elected will also regulate small business loans and be responsible for fire safety across the state.;; 

State Superintendent of Schools

Democrat Valarie Wilson faces off against Republican Richard L. Woods for the state’s top education job. Wilson is the former chairwoman of the City Schools of Decatur school board who believes districts in Georgia have been underfunded. Woods is a retired educator from Irwin County who ran an unsuccessful campaign for superintendent in 2010. Woods is a critic of national academic standards known as Common Core and other giant federal grant programs. Both are looking to replace current Superintendent John Barge, who lost a bid for governor.;

Commissioner of Labor

Republican Mark Butler suffered an embarrassing lapse when he predicted the state’s unemployment numbers would drop, only to see them rise to the highest in the nation in August at 8.1 percent. Democrat Robbin Shipp hopes to capitalize on that mistake, advocating for a higher minimum wage and equal pay for women in her effort to unseat the incumbent. Butler points to the state’s positive economic growth factors, including a high number of jobs added and greater tax revenue for the state, as reasons he should be re-elected.;

Public Service Commission, District 4 — Northern

Republican incumbent Lauren “Bubba” McDonald runs against Democrat Daniel Blackman and Libertarian candidate Aaron Gilmer for a seat on the five-member PSC, which oversees some utilities, particularly Georgia Power. McDonald, a longtime politician and owner of a funeral home business, has supported the expansion of nuclear power in the state and pushed for expanded solar energy options. His campaign has been heavily funded by people and businesses with links to PSC decisions. Blackman, an environmental planning and policy consultant, has campaigned on holding down utility prices and expanding use of renewable energy such as solar. Gilmer is an auditor from North Georgia who has stressed his auditing experience.;; 

1st Congressional District

Republican state Sen. Buddy Carter is competing with Democrat Brian Reese, a UPS manager, for the seat being vacated by Republican U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston. Kingston ran unsuccessfully for U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss’ seat this year.;

2nd Congressional District

U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop, a Democrat, is seeking to fend off Republican Greg Duke, an optician, to win re-election.;

6th Congressional District

Democrat Robert Montigel, a small-business owner, is seeking to unseat U.S. Rep. Tom Price, a Republican.;

7th Congressional District

Attorney Thomas Wight, a Democrat, is vying to replace U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall, a Republican.;

9th Congressional District

U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, a Republican, is seeking to fend off a challenge from Democrat David Vogel, a retired educator.;

10th Congressional District

Attorney Ken Dious, a Democrat, is competing against conservative radio talk show host Jody Hice, a Republican, for the seat being vacated by Republican U.S. Rep. Paul Broun. Broun ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate this year.;

12th Congressional District

Rick Allen, a Republican businessman, is seeking to unseat Democratic U.S. Rep. John Barrow.;

Cobb County Board of Commissioners District 1

Democrat Derrick Crump is running against Republican Bob Weatherford for the open seat.

Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners District 2

Incumbent Republican Lynette Howard is running against Democrat Jaime “Jay” Trevari.

Fulton County Commissioner District 6

Incumbent Democrat Emma Darnell faces Republican Abraham Watson in a battle to represent south Fulton and parts of Atlanta. Darnell is an advocate for senior programs and other social services. Watson says the county needs new leadership.

Fulton County Commissioner District 7 (chairman)

Incumbent John Eaves, a Democrat, is seeking a third term against Republican Earl Cooper. Eaves cites his efforts to improve conditions at the county jail and to transform Grady Memorial Hospital from a public hospital to a private, nonprofit corporation. If re-elected, he says he’ll continue to focus on Grady, overhauling criminal justice and improving the efficiency of county government. Cooper has blasted Eaves for supporting this year’s 17 percent property tax increase. If elected, he says he’ll focus on expanding senior services, library hours and workforce development programs.

DeKalb County Board of Commissioners District 1

Four Republicans and an independent are running in the race to replace former DeKalb County Commissioner Elaine Boyer, who pleaded guilty to federal fraud charges and resigned. All the candidates say they will restore ethics and integrity to DeKalb’s government. The candidates are Wendy Butler, a land use attorney; Larry Danese, a retired engineer; Nancy Jester, an actuarial consultant; Tom Owens, a Vietnam veteran; and Holmes Pyles, a retired state government employee who is the independent in the race. The winner of the race will represent more than 140,000 residents in Brookhaven, Chamblee, Doraville, Dunwoody and Tucker.

Cobb County Board of Education Post 2

Republican Susan Thayer faces Democrat Kenya Pierre.

Gwinnett Board of Education District 2

Republican incumbent Robert McClure faces Democrat Zachary Rushing.

Special Election — Clayton County: Voters will consider a referendum to fund MARTA service within the county with a 1-penny sales tax. If Clayton voters approve the measure, it would be the first expansion of MARTA beyond the confines of DeKalb and Fulton counties since the agency began operating 42 years ago.

Special Election — Cobb County: A six-year, $750 million Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax that would fund a variety of projects, including parks, transportation, facilities and public safety.


Where do I vote?

Voters can see personalized sample ballots, verify their registration status and find polling locations on the secretary of state’s “My Voter Page” website (

Information about local elections can also be found on the state’s “GA Votes” mobile apps. Download the free apps for both Apple and Android operating systems using either the iTunes app store for an iPhone or iPad, or Google Play for Android.

What to bring with you

Georgia requires voters to show photo identification when they vote in person. Approved forms of identification include a Georgia driver’s license, even if it’s expired; a state-issued voter identification card; a valid U.S. passport; and a valid U.S. military photo ID.

AJC Election Central — Your election destination

AJC Election Central has everything you need to prepare for Tuesday’s general election. Log on to for the latest election news, including these useful tools:

  • Before casting your vote, look through a voter guide to see how your candidate answered questions and create your own customized ballot by visiting
  • A full chart of candidates running for statewide offices and other voting resources.

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