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Georgia enacts new state legislative district maps

Georgia enacted new legislative districts on Dec. 30, 2021, when Gov. Brian Kemp (R) signed a proposal approved by the legislature into law. The maps will take effect for Georgia’s 2022 state legislative elections.

On Nov. 9, the Georgia State Senate passed a map redrawing the state’s 56 Senate districts in a 34-21 vote, which the House then approved on Nov. 15 in a 96-70 vote. The Senate proposal signed by Kemp was released on Nov. 4.

On Nov. 10, the Georgia House of Representatives passed a map redrawing the state’s 180 House districts in a 99-79 vote, which the Senate then approved on Nov. 12 in a 32-21 vote. The House proposal signed by Kemp was released on Nov. 8.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Mary Niesse and Maya Prabhu wrote that the new Senate and House maps may result in a net increase of likely Democratic districts—one in the Senate and five in the House—while Republicans maintain a majority.

After Gov. Kemp signed the maps into law, two lawsuits were filed against them alleging racial gerrymandering. Sean Young, legal director of the ACLU of Georiga, said, “[P]oliticians have failed to draw maps that give many of these new Black voters new opportunities to elect candidates of their choice.”

Following the passage of the two maps, Rep. Ron Stephens (R) wrote in an editorial, “Our overriding objective was to ensure that the power of every Georgia citizen’s vote is equal,” adding, “we have ultimately produced constitutionally and Voting Rights Act-compliant … maps.”

As of Jan. 3, 27 states have adopted new state legislative maps for both chambers, one state adopted a map for one chamber, one state has adopted maps that have not yet gone into effect, and 21 states have not yet adopted state legislative maps. As of Jan. 3, 2012, 32 states had enacted legislative redistricting plans after the 2010 census.

Nationwide, states have completed legislative redistricting for 1,078 of 1,972 state Senate seats (54.7%) and 2,776 of 5,411 state House seats (51.3%).

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Two incumbent Democrats to face each other in U.S. House primary in Georgia

Incumbent Reps. Carolyn Bourdeaux and Lucy McBath each won congressional districts in Georgia previously held by Republicans. McBath (6th District) is running for re-election in the newly drawn 7th District, which pits her against Bourdeaux in the Democratic primary.

Daily Kos wrote that Bourdeaux currently represents about 57% of the new 7th District, while McBath represents 12%. Bourdeaux’s portion is also more Democratic than McBath’s based on 2020’s presidential election results.

McBath said the Republican-led Legislature redrew her district because “they would like nothing more than to stop me from speaking truth to power about the gun lobby and Republican Party in Congress.” McBath worked for Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense after her son was fatally shot in 2012. She defeated incumbent Rep. Karen Handel (R) 50.5% to 49.5% in 2018.  

Bourdeaux, a professor of public policy and former director of the state’s Senate Budget and Evaluation Office, won the open 7th District race in 2020. Bourdeaux said, “I’m disappointed, of course. … I have a lot of respect for Lucy McBath.”

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution‘s Patricia Murphy and Greg Bluestein wrote in September that “Bourdeaux drew the wrath of progressive groups — and [Stacey] Abrams allies — for joining other moderates with a stand that threatened to derail a $3.5 trillion social policy plan.” Bourdeaux joined nine other Democrats in saying she wouldn’t vote for a budget resolution needed to pass President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better agenda unless the House first voted on an infrastructure bill the Senate passed. Bordeaux said in August, “I believe in fiscal responsibility and that we need to pay for the things that we need to invest in, and I’m willing to stand up and talk about fiscal responsibility.” 

Ultimately, Bourdeaux withdrew from the effort and voted for the resolution. The House voted on the infrastructure bill and then the Build Back Better Act last month. Bourdeaux voted in favor of both.

In August, before the new district maps were drawn, Abrams endorsed McBath’s re-election bid, saying she “has not wavered on Georgia jobs and infrastructure, and she is a stalwart champion for our kids, for our democracy and more.”

Primaries are set to take place on May 24. 

In other Georgia news, Abrams announced on Dec. 1 that she is running for governor again. Current Gov. Brian Kemp (R) defeated Abrams 50% to 49% in 2018.

This story appeared in a Dec. 2 edition of The Heart of the Primaries, Ballotpedia’s newsletter capturing stories related to conflicts within each major party. Click here to see more stories from that edition and to find out how to subscribe.

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Dickens defeats Moore in Atlanta mayoral runoff election

City Councilman Andre Dickens (D) defeated City Council President Felicia Moore (D) in the general runoff election for mayor of Atlanta, Georgia, on Nov. 30, 2021, receiving 64% of the vote to Moore’s 36%. Incumbent Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms (D) announced on May 6, 2021, that she would not seek re-election, making her the first Atlanta mayor since World War II to choose not to run for a second term.

Dickens and Moore advanced to a runoff after placing second and first, respectively, in the Nov. 2 general election. Moore received 41% of the vote followed by Dickens with 23%. This was the city’s seventh mayoral runoff since 1973.

Dickens was first elected to the city council in 2013 and won re-election in 2017. During the mayoral race, he promoted his SAFE Streets Atlanta plan, a series of public safety proposals in response to voter concerns regarding crime. He received endorsements from Mayor Lance Bottoms, former Mayors Shirley Jackson (D) and Andrew Young (D), and U.S. Rep. Nikema Williams (D). Dickens also received endorsements from six members of the Atlanta City Council and three Fulton County Commissioners.

The number of votes cast in the runoff decreased by 18.1% compared to the general election, making this the largest decrease since the 1993 contest between Bill Campbell and Michael Lomax. 2021 was also the second time since at least 1981 where the second-place finisher in the general election went on to win the runoff.



Baldon and Jones win Atlanta Public Schools runoff elections

Runoff elections for District 2 and At-Large District 7 of the Atlanta Public Schools (APS) school board took place on Nov. 30, 2021. Aretta Baldon defeated Keisha Carey in the runoff election for the District 2 seat, 50.6% to 49.4%. Tamara Jones defeated KaCey Venning in the runoff for the At-Large District 7 seat, 66.9% to 33.1%.

Nine seats on the Atlanta Public Schools school board in Georgia—three at-large and six district seats—were up for general election on Nov. 2. Districts 1, 4, 5, and 6 and At-Large Districts 8 and 9 were decided in the general election.

Baldon was the District 2 incumbent and ran against challengers Carey and Bethsheba Rem in the general election. Baldon received 48.5% of the vote and Carey received 29.5%, followed by Rem with 22%. At-Large District 7 was an open seat, as incumbent Kandis Wood Jackson did not seek re-election. Five candidates ran for the seat, with Jones receiving 39.5% of the vote, Venning receiving 20%, and candidates Patricia Crayton, Royce Carter Mann, and Stephen Spring receiving 15% or less.

With one-quarter of APS students enrolled in charter and partner schools, standards for renewing and expanding charter schools were a major issue in this race. COVID-19 response policies, including mask and vaccine mandates, were also an issue.

The 2021 election was the last election during which every board seat was up for election simultaneously, as Georgia’s HB 1075 changed the state’s school board election process so that members’ terms are staggered based on whether they serve in even or odd-numbered districts. Jones will serve a two-year term that will expire Dec. 31, 2023, and Baldon will serve a four-year term that will expire on Dec. 31, 2025.



Runoff elections for Atlanta Public Schools districts to be held Nov. 30

Runoff elections for District 2 and At-Large District 7 of the Atlanta Public Schools school board will be held on Nov. 30, 2021. Aretta Baldon and Keisha Carey advanced to a runoff election for the District 2 seat, while Tamara Jones and KaCey Venning advanced to a runoff for the At-Large District 7 seat.

Nine seats on the Atlanta Public Schools school board in Georgia—three at-large and six district seats—were up for general election on Nov. 2. Districts 1, 4, 5, and 6 and At-Large Districts 8 and 9 were decided in the general election.

Baldon is the District 2 incumbent and ran against challengers Carey and Bethsheba Rem in the general election. Baldon received 48.5% of the vote and Carey received 29.5%, followed by Rem with 22%. At-Large District 7 is an open seat, as incumbent Kandis Wood Jackson did not seek reelection. Five candidates ran for the seat, with Jones receiving 39.5% of the vote, Venning receiving 20%, and candidates Patricia Crayton, Royce Carter Mann, and Stephen Spring receiving 15% or less.

With one-quarter of APS students enrolled in charter and partner schools, standards for renewing and expanding charter schools have been a major issue in this race. COVID-19 response policies, including mask and vaccine mandates, are also an issue.

The 2021 election was the last election during which every board seat is up for election simultaneously, as Georgia’s HB 1075 changed the state’s school board election process so that members’ terms are staggered. The winner in At-Large District 7, an odd number district, will serve a two-year term that will expire on December 31, 2023. The winner in District 2, an even number district, will serve a four-year term that will expire on Dec. 31, 2025.



Redistricting timeline update: Georgia begins special session, New Hampshire and Ohio redistricting efforts delayed

Here’s a summary of recent redistricting updates from Georgia, New Hampshire, and Ohio.

Georgia: The Georgia State Legislature convened for a special session focused on redistricting on Nov. 3, 2021. Senate Majority Leader Mike Dugan (R) said he expected the legislature to agree on and pass state legislative maps quicker than congressional maps. “[State legislative maps] will be more straightforward. The congressional ones will be a little more involved,” Dugan said.

New Hampshire: On Oct. 26, 2021, Senate Redistricting Committee Chairman James Gray (D) announced that the Senate will not begin considering map proposals until city officials in Nashua have finished redrawing ward lines. Gray said he expects the Senate to begin deliberations on proposed maps in late January 2022. The House Redistricting Committee, however, is expected to recommend proposals this year, with Rep. Barbara Griffin (R) saying the committee plans to make final map recommendations to the legislature on Nov. 16 or 17, 2021.

Ohio: The Ohio Redistricting Commission did not meet its Oct. 31, 2021, deadline to draw and approve a congressional map, and the authority to create new districts will now pass to the state legislature. Dan Tierney, a spokesperson for Gov. Mike DeWine (R), said the delayed release of U.S. Census Bureau data “essentially took five months out of the process” and did not leave sufficient time for the commission to draft and debate new congressional districts. The General Assembly must now draw and approve a new map by Nov. 30, 2021. For any map to be put in place for a full 10 years, support from at least a third of the members of the minority party is required, and any approved plan that does not meet this threshold will only be effective for four years.



Andre Dickens and Felicia Moore advance to a runoff election for Atlanta mayor

Image of the Georgia State Capitol in Atlanta, Georgia.

Andre Dickens and Felicia Moore advanced to a runoff election following the general election for mayor of Atlanta on November 2. Incumbent Keisha Lance Bottoms announced on May 6 that she would not seek re-election, making her the first Atlanta mayor since World War II to choose not to run for a second term

Since neither Moore nor Dickens received more than 50% of the vote, they will run in the runoff election scheduled for November 30. Moore received 40.8% of the vote, and Dickens received 23.0%. Kasim Reed, who received 22.4%, was the only other candidate of the sixteen-candidate field to receive more than 10% of the vote.

Dickens was first elected to the Atlanta City Council to represent the city’s third at-large post in 2013 and won re-election in 2017. He received endorsements from the state United Auto Workers, Communications Workers of America Local 3204, and former Mayor Shirley Franklin (D). He raised $1.0 million from campaign donors, according to pre-general election campaign finance reports.

Moore was first elected to the Atlanta City Council in 1997 and held the position until 2018. In 2017, elected as the President of the Atlanta City Council. Moore has received endorsements from EMILY’s List, the Professional Association of City Employees, and state Rep. Becky Evans (D). She raised $1.1 million according to pre-general election campaign finance reports.



Two Atlanta Public Schools races head to runoff election

Nine seats on the Atlanta Public Schools (APS) school board in Georgia—three at-large and six by-district seats—were up for general election on Nov. 2. Districts 1, 4, 5, and 6 and At-Large Districts 8 and 9 were decided in the general election, but District 2 and At-Large District 7 will go to a runoff election scheduled for Nov. 30, 2021.

General election winners were Katie Howard in District 1, Jennifer McDonald in District 4, Erika Yvette Mitchell in District 5, Eshé Collins in District 6, Cynthia Briscoe Brown in At-Large District 8, and Jason Esteves in At-Large District 9. Aretta Baldon and Keisha Carey will advance to a runoff election for the District 2 seat, while Tamara Jones and KaCey Venning will advance to a runoff for the At-Large District 7 seat.

Six incumbents were seeking re-election: Brown (At-Large District 8), Esteves (At-Large District 9), Baldon (District 2), Michelle Olympiadis (District 3), Mitchell (District 5), and Collins (District 6). Three incumbents did not seek re-election: Kandis Wood Jackson (At-Large Seat 7), Leslie Grant (District 1), and Nancy Meister (District 4).

With one-quarter of APS students enrolled in charter and partner schools, standards for renewing and expanding charter schools were major issues in this race. In 2018, the board voted 5-4 to allow KIPP Metro Atlanta, a network of charter schools, to continue to operate until 2023 when the charter must be renewed or terminated. Of the incumbent candidates in this election, Esteves and Collins supported the KIPP charter, while Brown, Mitchell, and Olympiadis opposed it.

COVID-19 response policies, including mask and vaccine mandates, were also an issue. In addition to implementing a school-wide mask policy and mandatory twice-weekly testing requirement for staff for the 2021-2022 school year, APS released a statement on Oct. 7, 2021, saying the school district would “continue to study the feasibility and need for a vaccine mandate in our district.”

The 2021 election is the last election during which every board seat is up for election simultaneously, as Georgia’s HB 1075 changed the state’s school board election process so that members’ terms are staggered. The candidates who won in odd-numbered districts will serve two-year terms expiring Dec. 31, 2023. Candidates who won seats in even-numbered districts will serve four-year terms ending Dec. 31, 2025.

Atlanta Public Schools is located in northwestern Georgia in Fulton County and DeKalb County. It is classified as a large city school district by the National Center for Education Statistics. The district served 52,377 students during the 2018-2019 school year and comprised 89 schools.



Twenty-two candidates are running for 9 seats in Atlanta Public Schools elections

Nine seats on the Atlanta Public Schools school board—three at-large and six district seats—are up for general election on Nov. 2, 2021. Twenty-two candidates qualified to run in the race by the Aug. 20, 2021 filing deadline. If necessary, a runoff election is scheduled for Nov. 30, 2021.

Six incumbents are seeking re-election: Cynthia Briscoe Brown (At-Large District 8), Jason Esteves (At-Large District 9), Aretta Baldon (District 2), Michelle Olympiadis (District 3), Erika Yvette Mitchell (District 5), and Eshé Collins (District 6). Three incumbents are not seeking reelection: Kandis Wood Jackson (At-Large Seat 7), Leslie Grant (District 1), and Nancy Meister (District 4).

With one-quarter of APS students enrolled in charter and partner schools, standards for renewing and expanding charter schools have been a major issue in this race. In 2018, the board voted 5-4 to allow KIPP Metro Atlanta, a network of charter schools, to continue to operate until 2023 when the charter must be renewed or terminated. Of the incumbent candidates in this election, Esteves and Collins supported the KIPP charter, while Brown, Mitchell and Olympiadis opposed it.

COVID-19 response policies, including mask and vaccine mandates, are also an issue. In addition to implementing a school-wide mask policy and mandatory twice-weekly testing requirement for staff for the 2021-2022 school year, Atlanta Public Schools released a statement on Oct. 7, 2021, saying the school district would “continue to study the feasibility and need for a vaccine mandate in our district.”

The 2021 election is the last election when every board seat is up for election simultaneously. Georgia’s HB 1075 changed the state’s school board election process so that members’ terms are staggered. The candidates who win in odd-numbered districts will serve a two-year term ending December 31, 2023. Candidates who win seats in even-numbered districts will serve a four-year term ending Dec. 31, 2025.

Atlanta Public Schools is located in northwestern Georgia in Fulton County and DeKalb County. It is classified as a large city school district by the National Center for Education Statistics. The district served 52,377 students during the 2018-2019 school year and comprised 89 schools.



Redistricting timeline updates: Georgia, North Dakota, and Oklahoma announce special sessions to tackle redistricting

Image of several stickers with the words "I voted"

Here’s a summary of recent redistricting timeline updates from Arkansas, Georgia, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, and West Virginia.

Arkansas: The Arkansas General Assembly reconvened at the start of a state legislative special session to consider congressional map proposals on Sept. 29. The state’s Board of Appropriation will begin work on redistricting for state legislative districts later this fall. 

Georgia: Gov. Brian Kemp (R) called for a special session of the Georgia General Assembly to address redistricting on Sept. 23.  The special session is scheduled to convene on Nov. 3.

New Hampshire: TheSpecial Committee on Redistricting continues to hold public hearings on redistricting. The committee will attend meetings in Brentwood and Lancaster this week on Oct. 5 and 7, respectively. The hearings will continue until Oct. 14.

North Dakota: On Sept. 23, Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner (R) announced that a special legislative session focused on redistricting and COVID-19 aid spending will begin on Nov. 8. Wardner said the Legislative Redistricting Committee will have finalized its plans by the start of the session, and the session is expected to last five to eight days.  

Ohio: The Ohio legislature did not meet its Sept. 30, 2021 deadline to produce a congressional district map. Since a congressional map wasn’t completed by that date, the Ohio Redistricting Commission must draw a map by Oct. 31. If the commission does not adopt a map, the General Assembly must draw a map by Nov. 30.

Oklahoma: On Sept. 24, Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) called a special session of the legislature to address redistricting. The special session will begin on Nov. 15.

Rhode Island: The special Legislative Commission on Reapportionment continues to hold public hearings on redistricting.  The commission held a meeting on Oct. 4 in Woonsocket and is scheduled to hold another in Kingston on Oct. 7. Hearings will continue until Oct. 25.

South Carolina: Senate President Harvey Peeler (R) canceled a special senate session originally scheduled to begin on Oct. 12. The Senate had planned to address COVID spending and redistricting during the special session, but the Senate redistricting committee asked for more time, saying it would not be able to draft district maps until later in the month.

West Virginia: The West Virginia Senate Redistricting Committee began the redistricting process by holding an organizational meeting in which they approved rules for drawing district maps. The House committee held its own organizational meeting on Sept. 30. Sen. Charles S. Trump (R) said he expects Gov. Jim Justice (R) to announce a special legislative session beginning the week of Oct. 11.