Georgia voters to cast ballots in eight legislative runoff elections

Voters across the state will head back to the polls June 18
Ralph Long III, left, and RaShaun Kemp, who are facing off in a Democratic primary runoff for the state Senate on June 18, shake hands following a candidates forum earlier this week. (Ben Gray /

Credit: Ben Gray

Credit: Ben Gray

Ralph Long III, left, and RaShaun Kemp, who are facing off in a Democratic primary runoff for the state Senate on June 18, shake hands following a candidates forum earlier this week. (Ben Gray /

Faye Floyd said she was excited to see so many candidates step up to run to replace retiring state Sen. Horacena Tate and give the district the representation it deserves.

Floyd said her experience as a public health adviser at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has taught her to have compassion because it’s hard to know what someone may be going through.

“We were informed that (Tate) had been ill, but we didn’t know to what magnitude” said Floyd, an Atlanta resident. “I try not to judge or to hold that against anyone, but that being said, we still had work to be done to be able to represent our district.”

Tate, an Atlanta Democrat first elected in 1998, has rarely been seen in the chamber since 2020.

RaShaun Kemp and former state Rep. Ralph Long III say they are running to provide full representation to Senate District 38 after constituents went without it for so long. The two, like candidates in numerous legislative districts across the state, face off in a runoff election on June 18 after none of the six hopefuls who ran in the District 38 primary secured more than 50% of the vote last month.

Senate District 38, which is based in Fulton County, spans from Sandy Springs to Palmetto.

In 2021, Tate missed the entire session due to an unspecified illness. Tate could not be reached for comment for this article.

Tate is the daughter of former state Sen. Horace Tate, who served 16 years in the chamber and has a section of I-75 named after him.

Horacena Tate, who was elected to the same district as her father, returned to the chamber in 2022 and was reelected that year for another term. She was not present for much of the 2023 legislative session and was on the Senate floor a handful of times this year.

Long, 48, served in the Georgia House from 2009 to 2013, when he was defeated after being drawn into a district with another Democrat during the GOP-controlled redistricting of seats in 2011. He’s unsuccessfully run for the state House and the Atlanta City Council since then.

Long, a real estate broker, said his experience in office is why voters should choose him over his opponent.

“We don’t have the time for the acclimation period of this young man right there,” Long said of Kemp during a candidates forum.

Kemp, 44, said he has the skills to represent the district as a “new progressive leader” in the Senate.

“I believe that my leadership has proven me to be ready to take on this world ... having worked in state government and also working across the country to support Black and brown charter schools that are founded by people of color,” he said.

Kemp, an Ohio native, is a senior director with the Seattle-based nonprofit National Charter Collaborative that works with people of color in leadership positions at charter schools. He’s also worked as a principal at an Ohio charter school and as a charter school officer with the Ohio Department of Education.

Kemp, who previously ran for a state House seat but lost in a runoff election in 2022, led in the race for District 38 with about 24% of the vote, according to the secretary of state’s office. Following closely behind was Long, who secured about 23% of the vote. The runoff winner will be the district’s senator-elect, as no Republicans filed to run for that seat.

Tate is one of three longtime Democratic senators who retired, triggering a deluge of candidates interested in taking over their Atlanta-area seats. All three primaries are heading to runoffs in Democratic-heavy districts. It will be the the first time voters in those districts will elect a new senator to represent them in more than 20 years.

In District 34, which spans Fulton and Fayette counties, Valencia Stovall, a former state representative who left office in 2020 to unsuccessfully run for the U.S. Senate as an independent, led the field of seven with about 46% of the vote. She will face Kenya Wicks, a former military officer who received about 15% of the vote. The winner of the runoff will face Republican Andrew E. Honeycutt in November.

The race for the DeKalb County seat held by retiring Senate Minority Leader Gloria Butler will see a choice between former Democratic state Rep. Randal Mangham and Iris Hamilton, a nurse. Mangham was the top vote-getter in the five-way race, securing about 31% of votes counted. Hamilton finished second, with about 23% of the vote. Butler has endorsed Hamilton as her replacement.

Voters in five more districts across the state will head back to the polls June 18 to vote on legislative seats.

Rep. Steven Sainz, R-St. Marys, is the only incumbent who will have to defend his seat in a runoff. He received the most votes, getting just under 50% of votes counted. He will face Glenn Cook, a veteran and retired pilot, who secured about 27% of the vote. The winner will face Democratic candidate Defonsio Daniels in November.

Two Gwinnett County-based seats will also have runoff elections. Democrats Arlene Beckles, who works in IT, will face Sonia Lopez, who works with Scouting America, in the runoff to replace retiring longtime state Rep. Pedro Marin, D-Duluth. There is no Republican in the race, so the winner will be the next representative to serve House District 96.

Republicans challenging state Sen. Nabilah Islam Parkes, a first-term Duluth Democrat, are also headed to a runoff election. J. Gregory Howard, a commodities broker, will face Fred Clayton, who is CEO of a remodeling company, in the Senate District 7 runoff. The winner will challenge Islam Parkes in November.

Rob Clifton, a commercial general contractor, and retired educator Paul Abbott will vie to be the Republican nominee in House District 131. Incumbent state Rep. Jodi Lott, R-Evans, is retiring. Democrat Heather Rose White, who recently retired from the U.S. Army, will challenge the Republican winner of this month’s runoff.

Two Democrats will face off later this month in a newly created, court-ordered majority-Black district based in Monroe and Macon-Bibb counties. Juawn Jackson, who works with middle school and high school students on college and career readiness, and Tangie Herring, a teacher, will battle to become the Democratic nominee in House District 145. The winner will face Republican Noah Redding Harbuck, an insurance agent, in November.

New district maps were drawn in response to a federal judge’s ruling that the state’s political boundaries established in 2021 during the redistricting process illegally weakened Black voting power. The maps were designed to protect most incumbents and left only a handful of swing districts up for grabs.

About half of Georgia’s 180 House races drew candidates from both parties, while 33 of Georgia’s 56 Senate seats will be uncontested in November.

More than 90 lawmakers — 23 senators and 69 representatives — effectively won reelection in March, the deadline for candidates to qualify for elections, because they didn’t have an opponent from either party.