Voters send two new legislators to Georgia General Assembly

The races have been set in six other legislative races
Gwinnett County resident Dana Pulliam leaves after voting on Georgia's primary runoff election at Lucky Shoals Park on Tuesday, June18, 2024 in Norcross. Voters are finalizing candidates Tuesday in runoff elections for some of Georgia’s tightest races, deciding on candidates for Congress, the General Assembly and county offices. (Hyosub Shin / AJC)

Credit: Hyosub Shin/AJC

Credit: Hyosub Shin/AJC

Gwinnett County resident Dana Pulliam leaves after voting on Georgia's primary runoff election at Lucky Shoals Park on Tuesday, June18, 2024 in Norcross. Voters are finalizing candidates Tuesday in runoff elections for some of Georgia’s tightest races, deciding on candidates for Congress, the General Assembly and county offices. (Hyosub Shin / AJC)

Voters on Tuesday chose the successors to two of the four metro Atlanta seats being vacated this year by longtime Democratic lawmakers.

Democrats RaShaun Kemp and Arlene Beckles are the presumptive legislators for Senate District 38 and House District 96, respectively. Neither seat drew a Republican challenger.

Kemp, who will fill the seat being vacated by state Sen. Horacena Tate, was victorious over former state Rep. Ralph Long III in Senate District 38, which is based in Fulton County and stretches from Sandy Springs to Palmetto.

RaShaun Kemp won Tuesday's Democratic runoff for a Fulton County seat in the state Senate that drew no Republican candidate. (Ben Gray / Ben@BenGray.com)

Credit: Ben Gray

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Credit: Ben Gray

Tate is one of four longtime Democratic lawmakers retiring from the General Assembly.

The four retirements, three in the Senate and one in the House, triggered a deluge of candidates interested in taking over their Atlanta-area seats. All four primaries were in Democratic-heavy districts. It will be the first time voters in those districts will elect a new state lawmaker to represent them in more than 20 years.

Runoffs became necessary in eight legislative districts across the state when no candidate received more than 50% of the votes counted in the May 21 primaries.

Beckles, who works in information technology, defeated Sonia Lopez, who works with Scouting America, in the House District 96 race late Tuesday. Beckles will assume the seat of retiring state Rep. Pedro Marin, who was among the first set of Latino legislators elected in the state when he took office in 2002.

In a bit of an upset, former military officer Kenya Wicks bested onetime state Rep. Valencia Stovall.

Wicks will face Republican Andrew E. Honeycutt in November.

Stovall, who left office in 2020 to make an unsuccessful bid as an independent in a U.S. Senate race, led the field of seven Democratic candidates with about 46% of the vote last month. Wicks pulled in about 15% of the vote four weeks ago.

But last-minute politicking may have cost Stovall the seat. The Fayette County Democratic Committee endorsed Wicks in the race, and flyers that called Stovall “basically a Republican” circulated in the district in the weeks leading to Tuesday’s election.

Wicks and Honeycutt will compete for the seat being vacated by state Sen. Valencia Seay to represent Senate District 34, which spans Fayette and Fulton counties.

Former Democratic state Rep. Randal Mangham defeated Iris Hamilton in the runoff election for Senate District 55. The DeKalb County seat is being vacated by retiring Senate Minority Leader Gloria Butler. Butler had endorsed Hamilton as her replacement.

Republican J. Gregory Howard, a commodities broker, defeated Fred Clayton, who is CEO of a remodeling company, in the Senate District 7 runoff. Howard will challenge state Sen. Nabilah Islam Parkes, a first-term Duluth Democrat, for her seat in November.

Rep. Steven Sainz, R-St. Marys, held off a challenge from Glenn Cook, a veteran and retired pilot. Sainz was the only incumbent who had to defend his seat in a runoff. He led in last month’s contest, getting just under 50% of the votes counted. He will face Democratic candidate Defonsio Daniels in November.

Rob Clifton, a commercial general contractor, defeated retired educator Paul Abbott to become 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 Clifton in the fall.

Tangie Herring, a teacher, defeated Jauwn Jackson in the Democratic primary runoff for House District 145, a newly created, court-ordered majority-Black district based in Monroe and Macon-Bibb counties. 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 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.

Staff writer Michelle Baruchman contributed to this article.