Election guide: What’s happening in Georgia?
Your guide to the midterm elections in the Peach State
- Voter makeup: Georgia voters do not register with a party, which makes determining party affiliation difficult. The state has shifted from strongly Democratic to almost evenly divided in recent years. In 2020, Joe Biden won the state by a margin of 0.2 percent.
- Voting: President Joe Biden has labeled Georgia’s election laws “Jim Crow 2.0” for enacting controls on absentee voting and mail-in ballots and for requiring proof of ID. Despite claims that these measures would disenfranchise minority voters, record numbers came to the polls during the primary.
- Fraud watch: To date, there has been no evidence of widespread voter fraud in the state, though there is an ongoing probe into whether former President Donald Trump attempted to interfere in the 2020 election. The investigation stems from a Jan. 2, 2021, phone call from Trump to Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in which he suggested the state official “find” extra votes for him. Prosecutors are also investigating 16 Georgia Republicans who allegedly signed fake elector slates in 2020 claiming that Trump won. Recently published security camera feeds showed a computer forensics team hired by Trump and lawyer Sidney Powell entering an election office in Coffee County and allegedly tampering with voting machines. The machines are now being replaced.
- On the Republican side, incumbent Gov. Brian Kemp defeated Trump-backed former Sen. David Perdue in the primaries. Kemp earned Trump’s ire for resisting personal phone calls instructing him to reject Biden’s electoral win in the state. Shortly before he took office in 2018, Kemp told the Georgia Baptist online publication, The Christian Index, that he was a lifelong member of the Episcopal Church and that he relied on prayer for wisdom throughout his campaign. He said his goal is to be prepared for any plan God has and to further the kingdom of God. This year, Kemp centered many of his campaign priorities around the economy and education. As governor, his record includes signing a pro-life “Heartbeat Bill” to protect unborn babies from abortion after a heartbeat is detected, at around six weeks’ gestation.
- Democratic candidate Stacey Abrams is hoping the second time’s the charm this cycle, running yet again for governor against Kemp after suffering a defeat in 2018. After that race, she claimed the election was stolen from her because voting laws prevented black voters from coming to the polls. She ran unopposed in the Democratic primary this cycle. She has been a strong proponent of abortion, saying that her faith and belief in free will leads her to believe it is wrong to impose Christian values on what she calls a medical decision. Her other top priorities include expanding Medicare and gun control.
- Republican nominee Herschel Walker retired from football as one of the all-time greats and became a successful businessman. Now he has decided to pursue elected office, but the Trump endorsee is struggling in the polls. The conservative has run on a platform of pro-life agenda items and strengthening the economy. He has billed himself as a family man with conservative values, but a flood of potential scandals alleging domestic abuse and children born out of wedlock has eroded some support. In early October, The Daily Beast reported the accusation that paid for a girlfriend’s abortion in 2009 and that the woman is also the mother of one of his children. She reportedly supplied a get-well card she claims he wrote. Walker insists the accusations are lies and part of a smear campaign. He also said he does not know the woman. Walker supports a national pro-life bill that would protect unborn babies from being aborted after 15 weeks’ gestation. He has received several endorsements from Christian groups and has credited his faith with getting him through mental health struggles. As of Oct. 5, he trails his opponent by nearly 4 points.
- Democratic incumbent Sen. Raphael Warnock has built his support in Georgia by appealing to the black community that helped put him in office, becoming the first black senator in the state in January 2021. In his race to retain his seat, he is emphasizing his religious background as a former minister and connections to faith-based groups, often holding speaking events at churches and other similar venues despite his support for a federal right to abortion. In campaign efforts across Georgia, Warnock has prioritized agenda items such as criminal justice reform, infrastructure, and economic development. From his 18 months in office, Warnock can boast wins for Georgia like interstate highway improvements and bipartisan efforts to protect the state’s agricultural production through a reduction of tariffs and other trade obstacles.
SECRETARY OF STATE
- Republican incumbent Brad Raffensperger defended his seat against Trump-backed candidate Jody Hice in the primaries in May. Trump and his allies launched a hefty campaign against Raffensperger, alleging he was a traitor for not finding extra votes to help Trump to an electoral victory in the state in 2020. The candidate has styled himself as a defender of voting rights, pointing to his record of conducting thorough election audits and withstanding political pressure.
- Democratic state representative Bee Nguyen would be the first Asian American to win statewide election in Georgia if she succeeds in ousting Raffensperger. Nguyen has campaigned largely on election security and received a key endorsement from Stacey Abrams. She said Raffensperger is “no election hero” even though he stood up to Trump. Nguyen opposed Raffensperger’s proposed election reforms including ID requirements and limits on ballot drop boxes.
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