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Stories about Georgia

Cook Political Report, Sabato’s Crystal Ball change race rating of Georgia’s special U.S. Senate election

On Oct. 13, The Cook Political Report changed its race rating for the special U.S. Senate election in Georgia from “Lean Republican” to “Toss-up”. On Oct. 8, Sabato’s Crystal Ball changed its rating from “Likely Republican” to “Leans Republican”.

Polling in recent weeks has shown Raphael Warnock (D) leading incumbent Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R) and Rep. Doug Collins (R), who have been tied within, or near, margins of error. Recent polls from Quinnipiac showed Warnock with 41%, Collins with 22%, and Loeffler with 20%. Polls from Public Policy Polling show a similar margin, with Loeffler at 24% instead of 20%.

Twenty-one candidates are on the ballot: eight Democrats, six Republicans, five independents, one Green Party candidate and one Libertarian. If no candidate receives a majority of the vote on Nov. 3, a runoff between the top two vote-getters, regardless of party, will take place Jan. 5, 2021.

Republicans have held both of Georgia’s U.S. Senate seats since 2005. Gov. Brian Kemp (R) appointed Loeffler following Sen. Johnny Isakson’s (R) resignation in December 2019.

Georgia is also holding a regularly scheduled Senate election. Race raters call that election between incumbent Sen. David Perdue (R), Jon Ossof (D), and Shane Hazel (L), Toss-up, Tilt Republican, or Lean Republican.

RealClearPolitics’ polling average for the presidential election in Georgia suggested a competitive race, as of Monday, with Joe Biden (D) at 47.8% and Donald Trump (R) at 46.6%.

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Rep. Tom Graves leaves Congress October 4

Georgia Rep. Tom Graves (R) resigned from Congress effective Sunday, Oct. 4. He announced his resignation on Sept. 11. Graves had previously announced on Dec. 5, 2019, that he would not seek re-election in 2020.

Graves issued the following statement via Twitter on Oct. 2: “Today I sent letters to Gov. Kemp & House officials to say I would be stepping down from Congress on Sunday, 10/4. It is time to begin the next season in life. I will be forever grateful for the incredible privilege of serving my country & community as a member of Congress.” Graves was first elected in 2010 in a special election.

Graves is one of 12 members of Congress to leave office early or announce resignation. Of these 12, nine are Republicans and three are Democrats. There are currently 232 Democrats, 197 Republicans, one Libertarian, and five vacancies in the U.S. House.

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Georgia U.S. Senate candidate Jon Ossoff completes Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connections survey

Jon Ossoff, the Democratic nominee in the regularly-scheduled U.S. Senate election in Georgia, recently completed Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connections survey. Ossoff faces incumbent David Perdue (R) and Shane Hazel (L) in the general election for U.S. Senate.

Ballotpedia asks all federal, state, and local candidates to complete a survey so voters can discover what motivates them on political and personal levels.

Select responses from Ossoff’s survey are below. Ballotpedia’s questions are in bold.

Who are you? Tell us about yourself.

“I run a small business that exposes corruption, organized crime, and war crimes for news organizations worldwide. My wife Alisha is an OB/GYN physician, and we both grew up in Atlanta. I earned my Bachelor of Science degree from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and a Master’s of Science from the London School of Economics. Before embarking upon my career in journalism and media production, I worked as a national security aide for Georgia Congressman Hank Johnson, handling defense and economic policy. Since 2013, I have been the CEO of Insight TWI, a 30-year old media production company that produces investigations of corruption, organized crime, and war crimes that are broadcast internationally to a global television audience of hundreds of millions. In recent years, we have investigated and exposed sexual slavery of women and girls by ISIS, crooked judges, foreign officials who steal U.S-funded food and medical aid, contract killers, human traffickers, war crimes, and bribery.”

What areas of public policy are you personally passionate about?

“I am passionate about delivering a historic infrastructure & clean energy package to create millions of new, good-paying jobs & make the U.S. the world leader in renewable energy and sustainability. I’ll push for big, overdue investments in transportation & transit, clean energy, energy efficiency, public health, communications, research & development, emergency response, & environmental cleanup. These investments will create job training & employment opportunities for millions of American workers & demand for products made by American businesses. They will revitalize our economy & lay the foundations for decades of prosperity, environmental sustainability, & health. Upgraded infrastructure will make life safer & more convenient, support commerce, attract investment, protect our environment, & improve our health. Money spent on infrastructure is truly an investment in America with positive returns across the economy & dramatic improvements to our quality of life.”

In 2018, 1,957 candidates completed a Candidate Connection survey. This number represents 6.9% of all 28,315 candidates Ballotpedia covered during that cycle. Out of the 1,957 respondents, 477 (24.4%) won their elections.

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To read more about Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey or if you are a candidate who would like to submit a survey, click here.



Special election approaches for Georgia’s 5th Congressional District

The special general election for Georgia’s 5th Congressional District is on September 29, 2020. A runoff election is scheduled for December 1. If no candidate wins a majority of the vote in September, the top-two vote recipients will advance to the runoff.
 
Seven candidates are competing in the special election:
Robert Franklin (D)
Kwanza Hall (D)
Barrington Martin II (D)
Mable Thomas (D)
Keisha Sean Waites (D)
Chase Oliver (L)
Steven Muhammad (Independent)
 
The winner of the special election will serve until January 3, 2021. The seat is also up in a regularly scheduled election on November 3.
 
The special election was called after John Lewis (D) passed away on July 17. Lewis served from 1987 to 2020.
 
As of September 16, 10 special elections have been called during the 116th Congress. Eight of those were called for seats in the U.S. House, and two were called for seats in the U.S. Senate. From the 113th Congress to the 115th Congress, 40 special elections were held.

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Glynn County, Georgia, ballot measure to abolish local police ruled unconstitutional

On September 11, a Georgia Superior Court judge ruled that the authority to abolish a local police department is held by local officials and cannot be voted on via a public referendum. The court’s decision removed the Glynn County Abolish County Police Department Measure from the November ballot. The measure would have abolished the Glynn County Police Department and transferred all existing equipment, resources, and funds to the Sheriff of Glynn County.

Senator Ligon, the bill’s sponsor, said he believed the people should decide on the state of the police department. Georgia State Representative Jeff Jones (R) opposed the measure saying, “Voters elect county commissioners to oversee many things in the county, in particular the police department. For very good reason, the constitution does not give authority over a county police department to state representatives and or state senators.”

This measure was initially put on the ballot through a vote of the Georgia State Legislature. Senate Bill 509 (SB 509) was introduced on June 15, 2020, by Senator William Ligon (R). It was approved by the Georgia State Senate on June 18, 2020, in a vote of 46-1 with six not voting and two absent. On June 23, it was approved by the Georgia House of Representatives in a vote of 152-2 with seven not voting and 19 absent.

As of September 11, Ballotpedia is tracking 19 local police-related ballot measures in 14 jurisdictions in seven states. These local ballot measures were proposed in the wake of George Floyd’s death on May 25, 2020.

Of the 19 ballot measures, seven of them are on the ballot in California and four of them are on the ballot in Pennsylvania. The most common policy addressed by the ballot measures was police oversight boards and offices and the duties and powers of these boards and offices. Ten of the ballot measures addressed police oversight. Other topics include police and criminal justice funding, staffing levels, law enforcement training, and the public disclosure of police camera footage involving deaths and serious injuries.

The following is a list of local police-related measures on the ballot for November 3, 2020:
  • Los Angeles County, California: Voters will decide a ballot measure to require that no less than 10% of the county’s General Fund be appropriated to youth, job, business, and housing programs and alternatives to incarceration.
  • Oakland, California: The Oakland City Council referred to the ballot a charter amendment that would create an Office of the Inspector General to review the police commission’s policies, as well as change the powers, duties, and staffing of the commission and police review board.
  • San Diego, California: The San Diego City Council referred a ballot measure to create a Commission on Police Practices, which would conduct investigations and subpoena witnesses and documents related to deaths resulting from police interactions and complaints made against police officers.
  • San Francisco, California: Voters will decide two ballot measures related to policing. One would remove the minimum police staffing level required (1,971 full-time police officers) from the city’s charter. The other measure would create the Sheriff’s Department Oversight Board and the Sheriff’s Department Office of Inspector General.
  • San Jose, California: The San Jose City Council referred a charter amendment to the ballot that would authorize an independent police auditor to review reports and records related to officer-involved shootings and uses of force.
  • Sonoma County, California: Voters will decide Measure P, which would make changes to the county’s Independent Office of Law Enforcement Review and Outreach.
  • DuPage County, Illinois: There are two non-binding advisory votes on the ballot. One advises the county on considering law enforcement and public safety as its top budgeting priority, and the other advises the county on funding and supporting law enforcement training methods that are designed to decrease the risk of injury to officers and suspects.
  • Akron, Ohio: Voters will decide a ballot measure to require police body and dashboard camera recording that document police use of force resulting in death or serious injury to be released to the public.
  • Columbus, Ohio: The Columbus City Council referred a charter amendment to the ballot that would create a Civilian Police Review Board to investigate alleged police misconduct, subpoena testimony and evidence during an investigation, and make recommendations to the Division of Police.
  • Portland, Oregon: Voters will decide a ballot measure to establish a new police oversight board, give the board subpoena powers, and allow the board to impose disciplinary actions, including termination, on law enforcement professionals.
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Voters in Philadelphia will decide two police-related ballot measures and one other criminal justice proposal. One measure would add language to the city charter calling on the police department to “eliminate the practice of unconstitutional stop and frisk, consistent with judicial precedent.” The other police-related measure would create a Citizens Police Oversight Commission. Another measure would create an Office of the Victim Advocate to act as an advocate for crime victims and co-victims.
  • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: The Pittsburgh City Council referred a charter amendment to the ballot that would authorize the Independent Citizen Police Review Board to audit the police bureau and require police officers to cooperate with the board’s investigations.
  • Kyle, Texas: Voters in Kyle will decide on a charter amendment that authorizes the city council to adopt procedures and establishes a committee to review the city’s police department.
  • King County, Washington: Two police-related measures will be on the ballot. One would make the county sheriff an appointed, rather than elected, position. The second measure would give the county council the authority to define the sheriff’s duties.
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Special Democratic primary for Georgia State Senate District 39 set for November 3

A new state legislative special election has been added to our list. The special election is for the District 39 seat in the Georgia State Senate. Only Democratic Party candidates may file because no Republican filed for the seat in the 2020 regular election. The incumbent, Nikema Williams (D), withdrew from the regular election after receiving her party’s nomination in the primary. The special Democratic primary is on November 3, 2020, and the primary runoff is scheduled for December 1 if no candidate wins a majority of the primary vote. The filing deadline is on September 4.



Andrew Clyde wins Georgia’s 9th Congressional District Republican primary runoff

Andrew Clyde defeated Matt Gurtler in the Republican primary runoff for Georgia’s 9th Congressional District on August 11, 2020. With 62% of precincts reporting, Clyde had received 56% of the vote to Gurtler’s 44%.

Clyde and Gurtler advanced from a nine-candidate field in the June 9 Republican primary. Gurtler finished first in that race with 21.3% of the vote. Clyde followed with 18.5%. Three other candidates received more than 10% of the vote.

Incumbent Rep. Doug Collins (R) is running in a special election to the U.S. Senate to represent Georgia, rather than running for re-election to the House. Collins won re-election in 2018 by a margin of 59 percentage points, and the district is rated Safe Republican.

Clyde is a gun store owner and has previously worked to get legislation passed by Congress to limit the IRS’s ability to seize assets. Gurtler has been a member of the Georgia House of Representatives since 2017.

All 435 seats in the U.S. House will be up for election on November 3, 2020. As of August 2020, Democrats have a 232-198 advantage over Republicans. There is one Libertarian member, and four vacancies.



Willis defeats incumbent Howard Jr. in Fulton County, Georgia, District Attorney Democratic primary runoff

Fani Willis defeated incumbent Paul Howard Jr. in the Democratic primary runoff for Fulton County, Georgia, District Attorney on August 11, 2020. With 15% of precincts reporting, Willis had received 74% of the vote to Howard Jr.’s with 26%.

Howard Jr. has been in office since 1997. Howard Jr. and Willis were the top-two finishers in a three-candidate primary on June 9.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution wrote on August 4, “As the runoff nears, both candidates have been fiercely attacking one another, both during online debates and in ads. Howard has criticized Willis for accepting donations from police unions. Willis has condemned the DA for the sexual harassment complaints filed against him. (Howard strongly denies the allegations.)”

The county seat of Fulton County is Atlanta.



Marjorie Taylor Greene wins Georgia’s 14th Congressional District Republican primary runoff

Marjorie Taylor Greene defeated John Cowan in the Republican primary runoff for Georgia’s 14th Congressional District. At 8:28 p.m. EST, the race was called by Decision Desk HQ with 42% of precincts reporting. Greene received 59.4% of the vote and Cowan followed with 40.6%. Incumbent Tom Graves (R), in office since 2010, did not run for re-election.

In the June 9 primary, Greene received 40% of the vote to Cowan’s 21%. Nine candidates ran. A candidate needed more than 50% of the vote to win the primary outright.

The race received national attention after Politico reported on comments Greene made about Muslims and Black people. Other reports discussed comments she made about QAnon.

Greene defended her comments, saying, “Every Republican, every Christian Conservative is going to be called a racist and a bigot by the Fake News Media, as have Steve Scalise and Liz Cheney. I’m sorry my future colleagues are unable to stand up to the pressure and fight back.” She criticized Cowan by saying he never donated to President Donald Trump but donated to Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s 2016 presidential campaign.

Cowan told Greene at a debate, “I’ll be the best ally that Donald Trump has by getting elected and keeping you out of office, because the Democrats will use you as their chief fundraiser for all the crazy and ludicrous things that you say.” He also criticized Greene for switching from running in the 6th District primary to the 14th District primary after Graves announced he wasn’t seeking re-election.

Graves won re-election in 2018 by a margin of 53 percentage points.

All 435 seats in the U.S. House will be up for election on November 3, 2020. As of August 2020, Democrats had a 232-198 advantage over Republicans. There was one Libertarian member, and there were four vacancies.



Special election runoff to be held in Georgia Senate district

A special election runoff is being held on August 11 for District 4 of the Georgia State Senate. Republicans Scott Bohlke and Billy Hickman are facing off in the runoff. Bohlke and Hickman advanced past the June 9 primary election with 32% and 33% of the vote, respectively. The two candidates are also running in a primary runoff in the regularly-scheduled election. The winner of the primary runoff will be unopposed in the general election.

The seat became vacant after Jack Hill (R) passed away on April 6. Hill had represented District 4 since 1991.

Heading into the special election, Republicans have a 34-21 majority in the Georgia Senate with one vacancy. Georgia has a Republican state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers.

As of July, 52 state legislative special elections have been scheduled for 2020 in 25 states. Between 2011 and 2019, an average of 77 special elections took place each year.

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