Capitol Recap: GOP runoffs to complete Georgia congressional ballots for fall

Former state Senate Majority Leader Mike Dugan, left, and Brian Jack, a longtime aide to Donald Trump, face off Tuesday in the GOP primary runoff in west Georgia's 3rd Congressional District.

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

Former state Senate Majority Leader Mike Dugan, left, and Brian Jack, a longtime aide to Donald Trump, face off Tuesday in the GOP primary runoff in west Georgia's 3rd Congressional District.

Voters to pick Republican nominees Tuesday in two US House districts

Voters will go to the polls Tuesday to pick the Republican nominees in South Georgia’s 2nd Congressional District and the 3rd Congressional District, which stretches from Atlanta’s southwestern suburbs to the Alabama state line.

The 3rd District race is the one more likely to help produce a new member of the U.S. House. It’s deep-red territory that voted overwhelmingly for Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential race, and the Republican-led General Assembly made it a safe place for GOP candidates during redistricting.

Trump has an interest in the race: He endorsed a longtime aide, Brian Jack, for the post. That tie to the former president has helped the candidate bring in some big Republican names, such as Ohio U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan and former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, to help out on the campaign trail. It also has helped with campaign fundraising, with Jack collecting most of his donations from outside Georgia.

Jack, who nearly avoided a runoff in the May 21 primary, is facing former state Senate Majority Leader Mike Dugan, who got into Tuesday’s second round by drawing about 25% of the vote last month.

Both are presenting themselves as the conservative choice.

Jack plays up his connection to the former president, which included heading up Trump’s Office of Political Affairs at the White House.

Dugan tries to paint his opponent as a “D.C. insider” while stressing his own work in Georgia, where he says he helped move through the General Assembly GOP-backed measures that included an overhaul of voting rules, new abortion limits and an expansion of gun rights.

The winner on Tuesday will face Democrat Maura Keller in November.

Whoever wins the Republican nomination in the 2nd District will face a rougher road to the U.S. Capitol, having to go through Democratic U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop of Albany, a 16-term lawmaker and a strong favorite to stretch that to 17.

The top vote-getter in the May 21 GOP primary was A. Wayne Johnson, who was the chief operating officer of the Office of Federal Student Aid in the U.S. Department of Education under Trump.

He’s running against Chuck Hand, who pleaded guilty in 2022, along with his wife, Mandy, to a misdemeanor charge of illegally demonstrating in the U.S. Capitol during the riot on Jan. 6, 2021. Each was sentenced to 20 days in federal prison and six months of probation.

Kemp leads trade mission to South Korea

Gov. Brian Kemp traveled to South Korea this week to reinforce Georgia’s connection to a corporate community that has built manufacturing plants and warehouses across the state.

This is Kemp’s second visit to the nation that served as his host when he made his first international trip as governor in 2019. In the years that followed, Kemp’s office has made a series of announcements about large South Korean investments — including the biggest economic development project in state history, the massive Hyundai Motor Group Metaplant under construction near Savannah.

South Korea now ranks among Georgia’s most important international business partners, especially in recent years. It was Georgia’s top foreign investor for the past three years, and South Korean companies announced more than $10 billion in investments in the state during the 2023 fiscal year, creating 12,605 jobs across Georgia.

This trip’s itinerary includes meetings with several existing industries that are either operational or under construction in Georgia, including Hyundai, Kia, CJ Foodville, Hanwha Qcells, LG Group and SK Group.

Georgia Economic Development Commissioner Pat Wilson said there are more South Korean corporate projects that the state hopes to recruit.

“We have a number of very hot, active projects that we’re trying to get over the finish line,” Wilson said. “So the governor will be able to go in, be the best salesman and hopefully close the deal on some of these projects.”

Joining the governor on the trip are first lady Marty Kemp; state Senate President Pro Tem John Kennedy, R-Macon; state Rep. Soo Hong, R-Lawrenceville; state Rep. Lehman Franklin, R-Statesboro; and officials from the Georgia Department of Economic Development, the Georgia Environmental Protection Division and the Georgia Ports Authority.

Trump backers question Georgia voter numbers; state says its ‘misinformation’

The America First Policy Institute, an organization aligned with former President Donald Trump, claims that more than 100% of the eligible population in 22 Georgia counties is registered to vote.

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger called the accusation “misinformation.”

Longtime Trump aide Hogan Gidley said many of the people on the state’s voter rolls may not be eligible to vote, creating the possibility for fraud.

Gidley’s claim, however, relies on voter registration numbers that include “inactive” voters — registrants who haven’t participated in recent elections and are on track for cancellation.

Just because people remain registered after they move to a new address doesn’t mean they’re still eligible to vote in Georgia. State and federal laws require confirmations and waiting periods before voter registrations can be canceled.

Raffensperger wrote this past week in a letter to state legislators that there are nearly 7 million “active” voters in Georgia, accounting for 90% of the voting-age population.

An additional 900,000 registrants are “inactive,” which occurs when they appear to have moved out of the state, if they haven’t voted in five years, or they contacted elected officials. Their registrations will be automatically canceled if they miss the next two general elections.

Illegal voting is rare in Georgia. Few cases have been proved, and all of the state’s voters are now required to provide photo ID before casting ballots in person or absentee.

An outside attorney was unable to substantiate allegations, including sexual harassment, against state House Minority Leader James Beverly, a Democrat from Macon. Beverly, who has headed the House Democratic caucus since 2021, is not running for reelection this year. (Hyosub Shin /

Credit: Hyosub Shin/AJC

icon to expand image

Credit: Hyosub Shin/AJC

Review unable to confirm harassment allegations against state Dem leader

An outside attorney hired by Georgia House Democrats was unable to substantiate allegations, including sexual harassment, against Minority Leader James Beverly.

The review, conducted by attorney Cheryl Treadwell, focused on allegations that Beverly, a Democrat from Macon, made inappropriate comments to a female party staffer whose identity wasn’t disclosed.

Beverly told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution the review showed the claims were “false and unwarranted.” The staffer declined to comment, as did other party officials.

Beverly, an optometrist, was first elected to lead the caucus in 2021. He isn’t seeking another term in the Legislature in November.

Lauren Groh-Wargo, right, who returned earlier this year as interim chief executive of Fair Fight, the political and advocacy group that Democrat Stacey Abrams formed after she lost the 2018 race for governor, has now agreed to become its permanent chief executive. (ALYSSA POINTER/ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM)

Credit: Alyssa Pointer/AJC

icon to expand image

Credit: Alyssa Pointer/AJC

Fair Fight moves onto more solid ground

Fair Fight, the political and advocacy organization that Democrat Stacey Abrams founded following her loss in the 2018 race for governor, has severely curtailed its efforts this presidential election year.

But it now has a permanent chief executive.

Earlier this year, the financially struggling group announced that it would scale back its work on voting rights, media, fundraising and grassroots organizing while also cutting 75% of its staff — about 20 people.

At the same time, Fair Fight announced that Lauren Groh-Wargo, one of Abrams’ top allies, would be returning as interim chief executive. Groh-Wargo has now shed “interim” from her title.

Fair Fight is also adding a communications director, Max Flugrath, a veteran operative with a long history of working with Groh-Wargo.

U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff, shown during a hearing in April focusing on mail delivery complaints, pressed Postmaster General Louis DeJoy again this week to solve problems associated with the new Atlanta Regional Processing and Distribution Center in Palmetto. The latest update the U.S. Postal Service offered last month showed that the on-time delivery of first-class mail in the Atlanta area was 64%.

Credit: Screenshot

icon to expand image

Credit: Screenshot

Ossoff keeps the heat on postmaster general over delivery rates

U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff continued to pressure Postmaster General Louis DeJoy this week to keep his promises to address service troubles involving slow mail delivery in Georgia.

Ossoff earlier this year told DeJoy during a Senate hearing that the postmaster general had weeks to fix delivery problems tied to the new Atlanta Regional Processing and Distribution Center in Palmetto. At that time, on-time delivery for first-class mail in the Atlanta area was 36% (The rate exceeded 90% a year ago).

This past week, the senator noted in a letter to DeJoy that on-time delivery was 64% in the latest update the U.S. Postal Service offered last month. He made it clear that’s still not good enough.

“I want to reiterate that it is urgent that the performance of USPS delivery in Georgia improve immediately,” Ossoff wrote. “Georgians are tired of waiting. They deserve better.”

Dr. Edjah Nduom, the leader of the brain tumor disease team at the Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University, was named by President Joe Biden to serve on the National Cancer Advisory Board. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Credit: Alex Brandon/AP

icon to expand image

Credit: Alex Brandon/AP

Biden picks Emory physician for spot on cancer advisory panel

President Joe Biden named Dr. Edjah Nduom, the leader of the brain tumor disease team at the Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University, to the National Cancer Advisory Board.

As part of the “Cancer Moonshot” initiative, Nduom will assist in a renewed White House research effort aimed at reducing U.S. cancer deaths by at least half within 25 years.

Ralph Reed, the head of the conservative Faith and Freedom Coalition, continues to support former President Donald Trump's bid to return to the White House despite his conviction last month on 34 felony counts involving hush-money payments to a porn star. (Bita Honarvar/AJC)

Credit: Bita Honarvar/AJC

icon to expand image

Credit: Bita Honarvar/AJC

Political leaders give views on Trump verdict through religious prism

Two men with Georgia ties known for mixing religion and politics recently discussed former President Donald Trump’s 34 felony convictions involving the falsification of business records to disguise $130,000 in hush-money payments to a porn star.

They went different ways.

Ralph Reed, a longtime leading voice for the Christian right as head of the Faith and Freedom Coalition and the author of “The Christian Case for Trump,” told The Washington Post that the verdict will not affect his support for Trump in November’s presidential election.

“Individual voters are going to assess the character and the integrity of these candidates on their own, as they well should,” Reed said.

He later added: “Donald Trump was the most pro-Israel, the most pro-life, the most pro-family, and the most pro-religious freedom candidate in the history of our movement. And we supported him in ‘16 and ‘20, and I’ll do so again in ‘24.”

In an interview with The New Yorker magazine, Democratic U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock, who is also the senior pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, criticized those who have “narrowed their religious discussion to matters of private morality, family values, one’s conduct around issues of human sexuality, marriage and the like” while still backing Trump.

“That’s the question for this moment, who really is their God? Particularly, when we’ve been told by a lot of folks on the far right for years that their focus is family values,” Warnock said. “When we’ve raised issues that we think also matter, that people like me think are also central to the Gospel, like how you treat the poor, they have narrowed the religious discussion to matters of private morality, one’s conduct around issues of human sexuality, marriage and the like.”