US House runoffs top ballot for Georgia voters

Polls open 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Tuesday

Southeast Georgia state Senate districts
Southeast Georgia state Senate districts

Georgia voters will return to the polls Tuesday for runoffs to settle party nominations in four congressional races and 17 legislative races, including Southeast Georgia’s U.S. House district, a state Senate seat, a couple of area county commissioner races and Pierce County sheriff.

Here’s a look at the races on Southeast Georgia ballots:

1ST CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT

Democratic voters will decide on Lisa Ring or Joyce Marie Griggs as the challenger to Republican incumbent Rep. Buddy Carter in the 1st District along Georgia’s Atlantic coast.

Ring, the nominee in 2018, won a plurality of votes in a three-way race in June. She argues the district needs a representative who will support expanded health care, higher wages, racial justice and environmental protection.

Griggs, an Iraq combat veteran, argues that Carter isn’t doing enough to represent all the district’s residents, and has touted support for less punitive federal prison sentencing and work to reduce police violence against Black people. Griggs has falsely claimed in campaign appearances that the Georgia Supreme Court overruled her 2004 disbarment. The former attorney remains barred from practicing law after the high court rejected her 2011 petition to be reinstated. Griggs unsuccessfully ran against then U.S. Rep Jack Kingston in 2000.

The district includes all or part of 17 counties from Savannah south to St. Mary’s and west to Valdosta.

GEORGIA SENATE DISTRICT 3

Republican voters in a sprawling state Senate district that includes Brantley, Camden, Glynn, McIntosh and part of Charlton counties will determine their candidate for the state seat now held by William Ligon, R-White Oak. Ligon is not seeking another term.

Sheila McNeill and David Sharpe, who got the most votes in the three-way primary in June, will square off to determine who will represent the district the next two years. No Democrats qualified to run for the seat.

GLYNN COUNTY

Republicans in Glynn County either Bo Clark or Walter Rafolski for the At-Large Post 2 county commission seat. Current commissioner Bob Coleman who finished last in the primary. The winner of Tuesday’s contest will face Democrat Taylor Ritz in November.

CAMDEN COUNTY

Democrats in Camden County will choose between Democrats Monica D. McGowan and Kevin Walker for the District 1 county commission seat. The winner will face incumbent Republican Lannie Brant, who narrowly survived his primary challenger.

PIERCE COUNTY

Sheriff Ramsey Bennett got the most votes in a four-way Republican primary, but not enough to avoid a runoff against Blackshear Police Maj. Robby Boatright.

Other races to watch around the state

14TH DISTRICT REPUBLICANS

The contest getting the most attention is for the Republican nomination in northwest Georgia’s 14th Congressional District. Construction executive Marjorie Taylor Greene has been attacked by many as unfit for the Republican nomination for Congress because of statements she has made on social media supporting conspiracy theories and remarks seen as racist and anti-Semitic. The remarks have drawn a national spotlight and caused several high-profile Republicans to withdraw support for Greene and instead back neurosurgeon John Cowan.

Greene received over 40% of the ballots cast in the initial June 9 primary, while Cowan got 21%.

The seat is open because U.S. Rep Tom Graves is stepping down, and the district is heavily Republican, although the winner will face Democratic candidate Kevin Van Ausdal. The district covers all or part of 12 counties, stretching from the Tennessee line south to Haralson and Paulding counties.

9TH DISTRICT REPUBLICANS

Republicans in northeast Georgia will choose as their 9th Congressional District nominee either a self-styled constitutional conservative who serves in the state House and a gun dealer who fought the IRS and won. The winner of Tuesday’s matchup between Matt Gurtler and Andrew Clyde will be a heavy favorite in one of the nation’s most reliably Republican congressional districts.

The men are close together on policy, both supporting gun rights, opposing abortion and opposing government spending and debt. But there’s a split, with some Republicans backing Clyde because of Gurtler’s rebellion against the GOP state House leadership, while the GOP-friendly Club for Growth is backing Gurtler and running television ads attacking Clyde.

As a state representative, some dubbed Gurtler as “Dr. No” for how often he voted against legislation. He said he is fighting the establishment, seeking a small government that he sees as true to the U.S. Constitution. Clyde touts his record as an Athens gun dealer, his 28 years of Navy service, and his successful advocacy of restrictions on the IRS after the agency seized $940,000 from him in 2013.

9TH DISTRICT DEMOCRATS

Democrats are also choosing a nominee in a runoff in the 9th District. Devin Pandy is touting his Army career as preparation while Brook Siskin says she wants to be an advocate for change and a voice for unheard people.

Siskin was arrested for disorderly conduct in March at a Gwinnett County bank and police found a loaded handgun in her car. A judge found Siskin in contempt on June 19 for violating a 2012 divorce decree requiring that she surrender weapons. WAGA-TV reported Siskin refused to surrender a second gun.

Siskin denied wrongdoing.

FULTON COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY

Paul Howard, who became Georgia’s first African American district attorney when he took office in 1997, faces a tough challenge for the Democratic nomination from Fani Willis, who worked in Howard’s office for 16 years and has also been a defense attorney and judge.

Howard ran behind Willis in a three-way June primary, with the incumbent facing allegations of harassment or discrimination from three past of present female employees. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is looking into a salary supplement he received from the city of Atlanta that was passed through a nonprofit Howard controlled and is investigating his use of subpoenas in high-profile case against two police officers.

Howard drew both criticism and praise for charging Atlanta police officers in two high-profile cases that unfolded during local protests against police brutality and racial injustice.

Willis has raised more money and snagged key endorsements. With no Republican qualified for the general election, the runoff is likely to decide the race.

GENERAL ASSEMBLY

There are 17 party runoffs and one special election runoff for House and Senate seats in the General Assembly. In the special election, Republicans Scott Bohlke of Brooklet and Billy Hickman of Statesboro will fight it out for both the Republican nomination to a new term and the remainder of the current term in southeast Georgia’s Senate District 4. The seat was held by Jack Hill, who died in March.

Two longtime Democratic House members were the only incumbents forced to runoffs. Sharon Beasley-Teague has represented House District 65 in south Fulton and part of Douglas counties since 1993. She led her June primary but narrowly missed a majority in a three-way race and faces challenger Mandisha Thomas.

In DeKalb County’s House District 86, incumbent Michelle Henson, who has been in the House since 1991, won a plurality of the vote in a four-way race. Second-place finisher Zulma Lopez is mounting a vigorous challenge.

Six runoffs are between Democrats, and 11 are between Republicans.