Republicans sweep down-ballot statewide races again

Republicans running statewide won the down-ballot races once again.

The results come two years after Georgia voted for Democratic candidates for president and the U.S. Senate and four years after some Democratic statewide candidates lost by close margins.

That wasn’t the case this year. No Democrat has won a down-ballot statewide race in Georgia since 2006.

Burt Jones, a Donald Trump-backed Republican state senator from Jackson, won the race to replace Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan, who did not seek reelection.

Democrat Charlie Bailey had made Jones’ role as part of a phony slate of GOP electors designed to help Trump’s effort to overturn the 2020 election in Georgia central to his campaign. Jones focused his campaign on his desire to eliminate the state income tax and tamp down on crime.

Early Tuesday evening, supporters predicted an early night. The race ended up being closer than expected, and coupled with the potential for the U.S. Senate race heading to a runoff, signaled the political division in the state.

“The state has been trending a little more competitive than it used to be,” Jones said. “It’s just another illustration of why we need to do more as a (Republican) Party to try to broaden our tent.”

Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger won reelection over Democrat Bee Nguyen.

Made famous by his refusal to “find” more votes for Trump, Raffensperger benefited from crossover Democratic support. One October poll found that 20% of the Democrats queried said they planned to vote for Raffensperger.

Republican Attorney General Chris Carr secured his reelection to be the state’s top lawyer for another four years.

Carr, a Dunwoody resident and onetime aide to Republican U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, was first appointed by then-Gov. Nathan Deal in 2016 and won his first full term in 2018.

Carr and his Democratic opponent state Sen. Jen Jordan made the enforcement of Georgia’s anti-abortion law central to their race, with Jordan saying she would not spend state resources to defend the statute that bans most abortions once a doctor can detect cardiac activity. Carr called Jordan’s position a “dereliction of duty.”

Jordan conceded the race Wednesday morning, saying the “the work is far from over.”

“It is now more important than ever that we continue to support and elect leaders who will prioritize the health and safety of Georgia families,” she said. “Leaders who will stand up for women and defend our right to make the most personal decisions about our own bodies.”

Republican state Sen. Tyler Harper, meanwhile, was on his way to becoming Georgia’s next agriculture commissioner, beating Democratic opponent Nakita Hemingway.

Harper, a seventh-generation farmer from Ocilla, will become only the third leader the Department of Agriculture has seen in over half a century.

Since 1969, the agency has been led by two men: Democrat Tommy Irvin, who served as commissioner for more than 40 years, and his successor, Republican Gary Black, who is finishing his third term as agriculture commissioner.

Republican incumbent John King beat Democratic challenger Janice Laws Robinson in the Georgia insurance commissioner’s race. The commissioner regulates rates for various types of insurance and serves as the state’s fire marshal.

Appointed to the post by Gov. Brian Kemp in 2019, King has cited his efforts to combat insurance fraud, saying the department has recovered more than $40 million from insurance companies.

Robinson, an insurance broker who cited her industry experience as a chief qualification, said she would have challenged every request for an insurance rate increase. Robinson was the Democratic nominee for the job in 2018 but lost the election to Republican Jim Beck, who later wound up in federal prison after being convicted of stealing more than $2.5 million from a former employer.

Republican Richard Woods won his reelection for state school superintendent, defeating Democrat Alisha Thomas Searcy.

Woods leads the Georgia Department of Education, which is responsible for about one-third of the state budget. The agency distributes state and federal funding to schools while monitoring their academic performance and their compliance with laws and regulations.

In the race for Georgia’s next labor commissioner, Republican state Sen. Bruce Thompson topped Democratic state Rep. William Boddie.

The job can be low-profile in good times but the center of the storm in a crisis. The agency became the focus of attention when the pandemic spurred unprecedented layoffs and overwhelmed the state’s unemployment insurance system.

Thompson and Boddie were running to replace Republican Labor Commissioner Mark Butler, who was criticized for his management of the department during the coronavirus pandemic and decided not to run for reelection.

Staff writers Michael Kanell, Drew Kann, Ty Tagami and David Wickert contributed to this article.