Georgia 2022: AG Chris Carr will run for re-election -- not US Senate

 Attorney General of Georgia Chris Carr Speaks at a press conference at the Capitol on Saturday, April 3, 2021.  STEVE SCHAEFER FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION
Attorney General of Georgia Chris Carr Speaks at a press conference at the Capitol on Saturday, April 3, 2021. STEVE SCHAEFER FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION

Credit: Steve Schaefer

Credit: Steve Schaefer

Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr launched a campaign Tuesday for re-election instead of a bid for U.S. Senate, setting the stage for a hotly-contested fight to decide the state’s next top legal official.

The Republican said he aims to expand his office’s work battling human trafficking, opioid abuse, cyber crimes and other scourges, and vowed to fight “costly, job-killing executive orders and regulations” from Washington.

For months, Carr weighed whether to challenge Democratic U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock, a campaign that would have brought his statewide name recognition and formidable political network to one of the premier contests on the 2022 ballot.

Had he run, Carr would have been the biggest Republican name in the Senate race. But Carr would have also faced GOP rivals eager to remind voters that, as the state’s lawyer, he successfully fended off a barrage of pro-Donald Trump lawsuits seeking to overturn the November presidential election.

Instead of navigating a difficult GOP U.S. Senate primary, Carr is taking the safer bet, at least in the short term: A re-election campaign where he appears certain to easily win his party’s nomination again.

Waiting in the wings are two formidable challengers who are duking it out in a Democratic primary: Former prosecutor Charlie Bailey, who was narrowly defeated by Carr in the 2018 election; and state Sen. Jen Jordan, a suburban Atlanta lawyer who launched her campaign for the seat in mid-April.

Carr’s decision, first reported by the AJC last month, comes after he distanced himself from an influential national group that played a role in the Jan. 6 insurrection.

In late April, Carr quit as chairman of the Republican Attorneys General Association because of an irreconcilable rift after the group’s policy arm paid for robocalls urging Trump supporters to march on the Capitol before the deadly riot. Carr said he couldn’t remain with the group after it chose an operative who orchestrated the calls as its new executive director.

His two Democratic opponents have framed Carr’s resignation as an attempt to distract voters from the group’s role in the violent attack on the Capitol.

Carr was U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson’s top aide and Gov. Nathan Deal’s economic development commissioner before he was appointed in 2016 as attorney general. He replaced Attorney General Sam Olens, who resigned to lead Kennesaw State University.

After taking office, Carr quickly hit the campaign trail, scaring off potential GOP challengers on his way to a close victory over Bailey. Ahead of his run for a second term, Carr has positioned himself as a loyal ally of Gov. Brian Kemp, a staunch supporter of a new election law that includes voting restrictions and an opponent of “boneheaded schemes” from Washington.

“I want to ensure that we live in a nation where our freedoms are not compromised,” he said, “where the rule of law is respected and where values mean something.”

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