In the primary election desert that is the month of July, Georgia is one of the few states where voters are heading to the polls for runoff elections on Tuesday, July 24.
Two Republicans — Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and Secretary of State Brian Kemp — are facing off in a tight race to be the GOP nominee for governor (Republican Gov. Nathan Deal is term-limited out). Whoever wins Tuesday’s primary will face Democrat Stacey Abrams, who already won her primary in May. The governor’s race will be one of the most closely watched in the country; Abrams would make history as the first black woman governor if she wins in November.
Beyond the governor’s race, there are two congressional races worth watching; Georgia’s Sixth and Seventh Congressional Districts. The Sixth is the same district where Democrats poured millions into Jon Ossoff’s failed campaign against Republican Rep. Karen Handel, while the Seventh is another district where Democrats would like to flip the seat currently held by Rep. Rob Woodall to blue.
Here’s what you need to know.
Georgia Republican governor: two Republicans are vying for the chance to compete against Stacey Abrams
Who are the Republicans? Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and Secretary of State Brian Kemp both emerged out of the May 22 primary. They’re both supporters of President Donald Trump, who endorsed Kemp via Twitter. Cagle was more than 10 points ahead of Kemp in the May primary, but the Trump bump could tip things in Kemp’s favor.
Who is the Democrat? Former state House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams, who’s the nominee after getting more than 50 percent of the vote during her May primary. There’s a lot of grassroots Democratic energy around her campaign.
What’s the story? Cagle and Kemp are both Georgia state officials, so it could be argued they’re both part of the state’s Republican establishment. But like in many other Republican races, it’s become a race to see who is the most conservative and Trump-like. Kemp earned a tweet endorsement from Trump, so he’s likely seen as favored to win.
Perhaps the biggest dustup in the election so far is a secret recording of Cagle back in May, complaining that the race had turned into a contest of “who had the biggest gun, who had the biggest truck, and who could be the craziest.” Cagle later said he was referring to Republican candidates, but Kemp has seized on the comment to argue that his opponent is out of touch with Republican voters.
Georgia’s Sixth Congressional District: can a new Democrat do what Jon Ossoff couldn’t?
Who is the Republican? Rep. Karen Handel, former Georgia secretary of state, elected to Congress in 2017.
Who are the Democrats? Gun control activist Lucy McBath, whose son was shot and killed in 2012, and business executive Kevin Abel.
What’s the story? Coming on the heels of Trump’s election, Georgia’s Sixth was supposed to be Democrats’ great hope of flipping a conservative district last year, but it turned into a big, expensive failure. It’s still a conservative district that Cook Political Report rates Lean Republican, but McBath and Abel both think they have a shot at flipping it to blue.
McBath is making gun control a focus of her campaign; she got into the race because of her son’s violent death. It could be a big test of whether the issue will win Democratic votes in a wealthy, educated suburban district. Abel, a white immigrant from South Africa, is arguing that McBath’s focus on gun control will lose her votes and says he’s in a better position to appeal to voters and take on Handel.
Georgia’s Seventh Congressional District: a long-shot pickup opportunity for Democrats
Who is the Republican? Rep. Rob Woodall, in office since 2011.
Who are the Democrats? Georgia State professor Carolyn Bourdeaux and tutoring business founder David Kim both emerged from a crowded May primary.
What’s the story? This district is likely more of a long shot for Democrats; Cook rates it Likely Republican. Trump won this suburban district in 2016 by a little over 6 points, but Democrats view Woodall as a potential target (albeit a reach).
Besides her experience in higher education, Bourdeaux previously served in Georgia’s Senate Budget and Evaluation Office and is hitting Woodall particularly hard on health care and his vote supporting Obamacare repeal in the House.
Kim, a first-time candidate, is already saying he won’t support House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi in her bid for speaker if he’s elected to Congress. He’s dumped more than half a million dollars of his own money into his campaign, while Bourdeaux has won the endorsement of Emily’s List, which works to elect Democratic women who support abortion rights.