Former State Representative Stacey Abrams ran unopposed in the Democratic gubernatorial primary and has now officially secured the nomination. Abrams is running on a “One Georgia” platform promising a vision of economic, educational, and social mobility. She is campaigning on the message of improving the lives of the average Georgian and focusing on areas that will directly impact their financial and socio-economic status. The plans include investing in rural areas through broadband expansion, education, and medical access.
In stark contrast, the Republican primary was a focal point of the internal Republican Party battle surrounding the impact of the unsubstantiated claims of widespread voter fraud in the last presidential election. In 2020, the certification of Joe Biden’s victory in the Peach State dealt a significant blow to former President Trump’s quest to overturn the election results. Trump was quoted at the time privately directing Georgia’s Secretary of State to “find 11,780 votes,” which is the exact amount he would have needed to win the state. The Republican leaders of the state refused to use their powers to overturn the election and have faced the ire of Trump ever since. Trump has championed the primary challengers of sitting Governor Brian Kemp, Attorney General Chris Carr, and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. His involvement in all three Republican primaries is widely acknowledged as a personal vendetta.
In the gubernatorial primary, Trump endorsed former United States Senator David Perdue in December and the Trump-backed organization Save America has donated $2.5 million to pro-Perdue super PACs since April. A poll taken of likely GOP voters completed on May 16 showed that this endorsement only encouraged 37% of voters to become more likely to vote for Perdue, with 63% either not influenced or less likely to vote for him. Alternatively, the national and state Republican establishment has rallied behind Kemp’s re-election campaign. The Republican Governors Association invested $5 million in pro-Kemp ads during the primary. Kemp also received endorsements from former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, and Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts. Former Vice President Mike Pence endorsed Kemp, and even appeared as a headliner at a pre-primary rally.
Both men ran on staunchly conservative agendas, which is why political pundits believe that Trump’s endorsement of Perdue has not achieved the anticipated impact on voters. Perdue’s platform, for example, is heavily focused on restoring election integrity. However, one of Kemp’s crowning achievements during his first term was passing stringent voting laws. With the promise of continuing to build off the momentum of his incumbency, criticism that Kemp is not conservative enough has fallen flat. In a recent poll of likely voters completed on May 16, 60% of respondents who voted early or cast absentee ballots said they voted for Kemp, while only 28% voted for Perdue. Governor Kemp ultimately won the Republican nomination for a second time on Tuesday and received an overwhelming 73% of the vote easily avoiding a two-man runoff.
As anticipated, Abrams enters the general as a slight underdog. While the state has not elected a Democratic governor since 1998, two Democrats were able to win statewide U.S. Senate races two years ago. And in their 2018 gubernatorial battle, Kemp bested Abrams by only 3.4%. Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball and the Cook Political Report both rate the state as a toss-up.
Incumbent Attorney General Chris Carr defeated challenger John Gordon by nearly 48 points on Tuesday. Carr was appointed by former Governor Nathan Deal (R) in 2016 and won re-election in 2018. He garnered good will among Republicans through numerous challenges to the Biden administration, and cooperation with the Trump administration during his six-year tenure. Carr has vowed to defend Georgia’s tightened voting restrictions against legal challenges.
State Senator Jen Jordan also defeated her challenger by a huge margin to capture the Democratic nomination for Attorney General. Jordan has pledged to defend voting rights, work for criminal justice reform, and fight for environmental laws and regulations. She is endorsed by the Democratic Attorney General Association and has an established career in the state through public service and litigating civil cases against insurance companies and payday lenders.
Governor Kay Ivey (R) has faced criticism over the last two years for her support of a 2019 gas tax increase and implementing COVID-19 mitigation measures, including a mask mandate which was not rescinded until mid-2021, and for publicly voicing her resentment towards Alabamians who refused to get vaccinated. She has now joined a handful of her Republican counterparts in being primaried from the right this cycle. And with uncertainty in the polls, she has been laser focused on convincing Alabama Republicans that she is conservative enough to continue leading the state.
While Governor Ivey has been running for re-election on her first-term record, she has also willingly embraced Republican primary voters' ideological shift over the last year: Her recent primary campaign ads tout the signing of bills prohibiting transgendered students from participating on sports teams and the teachings of critical race theory, and claim that “big tech and blue state liberals stole the election from President Trump.”
This move proved politically expedient with Governor Ivey getting enough votes – 54% – to avoid a June 21 runoff. She has a more relaxing general campaign ahead of her and will handily defeat the eventual Democratic nominee (Yolanda Flowers and State Sen. Malika Sanders-Fortier have moved on to a June 21 runoff) this November.
Incumbent Attorney General Steve Marshall (R) defeated his lone primary challenger and is expected to sail through the general election en route to a second term.
Former White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders easily secured the Republican gubernatorial nomination yesterday. She has been a formidable candidate: Since her announcement, she has smashed fundraising records and forced her top two challengers – the state’s Lieutenant Governor and Attorney General – out of the race. Sanders has highlighted education reform as a top priority. She also hopes to repeal the state income tax. Sanders has, much like other gubernatorial candidates running this cycle, nationalized her race: She consistently warns of federal government overreach and pledges to be the last line of defense against the “radical left” in Washington.
Sanders will now take on Democrat Chris Jones, a non-profit leader, ordained minister, and nuclear engineer. Jones is pledging to expand preschool, build out broadband, and implement policies to shore up the state’s workforce. Jones will now face a near insurmountable challenge: Sanders released polling results showing her up 30 points in the general election and it is highly anticipated that she will be sworn in as the state’s first female governor.
The Attorney General race is for an open seat as incumbent Attorney General Leslie Rutledge – the first Republican and first female elected to the Office of Attorney General in the state – is termed out. Lieutenant Governor Tim Griffin secured the Republican nomination for Attorney General on Tuesday. Griffin has had a long political career having served as Lieutenant Governor since 2015, a congressman, and as the United States Attorney for the eastern district of Arkansas in the George W. Bush administration. Griffin has vowed to make changes to the state’s criminal justice system including restructuring the parole and probation process, implementing stricter sentencing guidelines, and increasing prison capacity.
Griffin will face Jesse Gibson, who ran unopposed for the Democratic nomination, in the general election. Gibson is running on a platform of environmental reform, voter protection, and protecting consumers against corporate fraud. He is a civil litigation attorney specializing in personal injury and medical negligence. Gibson now has a difficult task ahead as Griffin has name ID and an “R” after his name in a deepening red state: Republicans are expected to maintain control of the Office of Attorney General.
Republicans have chosen to stay the course with incumbent Attorney General Ken Paxton, nominating him in yesterday’s runoff as their candidate for Attorney General. As we noted in our March 9 primary recap, while Paxton has seen his share of legal troubles, it seems the voters of the Lone Star State have chosen to look the other way: He still received approximately 42% of the vote in March – despite his opponents’ (and the media’s) laser-focus on Paxton’s past indictment for securities fraud and the current FBI investigation into allegations made by his own staff – and has received approximately 67% of the runoff vote yesterday besting Land Commissioner George P. Bush.
Meanwhile Democrats have officially selected their choice to go up against Paxton. Rochelle Garza secured the party’s nomination by 25 points. Ultimately, Garza and her runoff opponent hardly differed on policy positions leaving voters to choose the nominee based more on identity: And Democratic voters were more excited about a younger Latina. Garza, like any other Democrat running statewide in Texas, will face an uphill battle in the general.
State Attorneys General (AG) have been getting more involved in a wider range of policy issues in recent years. If they aren’t touching your industry now, they may be soon. Stateside can help you navigate these developments through our Attorneys General practice. For more information or questions, contact Steve Arthur at firstname.lastname@example.org or 719-686-7466.