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Candidates begin qualifying at Georgia Capitol to keep and win jobs from Congress to Legislature

Georgia Democratic Congressmen Hank Johnson and Sanford Bishop fill out qualifying paperwork, while candidates including Congresswomen Lucy McBath and Nikema Williams wait in line behind them. (Credit: Ross Williams/Georgia Recorder)

Ross Williams, Georgia Recorder
March 5, 2024

The Georgia Capitol was abuzz Monday with lawmakers and hopeful lawmakers lined up to qualify to run for office.

All of Georgia’s 14 Congressional representatives, 56 state senators and 180 state representatives will be up for election. A lot of them – and a lot of people who want to replace them – showed up at the Capitol Monday for the first of five days of signups.

An open seat

One person who won’t be dropping by is Republican Congressman Drew Ferguson, who announced he would not be running late last year, opening up a seat in the deeply conservative 3rd District.

Three Republican former state lawmakers signed up to try their hands in Congress Monday. Former state Rep. Philip Singleton and former state Sens. Mike Dugan and Mike Crane will be on the Republican ballot next to retired police officer Jim Bennett.

 Former state Rep. Philip Singleton. Ross Williams/Georgia Recorder

Singleton said he’s expecting seven Republican candidates to qualify, but he thinks he’s the best man for the job.

“They’re doing a lot on the campaign trail now, and unfortunately I’m the only one that’s ever done it in the legislature,” he said. “So to me it’s about telling the truth to the voters, and then when you get into office and you get elected, you actually have to do the things you said you were going to do. That’s more than a token vote on the topic once every legislative cycle and try to cover your bases.”

Dugan said he thinks voters will find his record superior.

 Former state Sen. Mike Dugan. Ross Williams/Georgia Recorder

“In the four years that I was majority leader, you look at issues that the state had been talking about for decades that we needed done and never got them done, during those four years, we got them done,” he said. “Whether it be in the military, whether it be in business, whether it be legislative, I’m the only person in this race that has a proven record of actually accomplishing things.”

Two Democrats have qualified for District 3, retired physician Val Almonord and nuclear medicine technologist Maura Keller.

A periwinkle state?

All five of Georgia’s Democratic congressional incumbents qualified Monday morning.

The Democratic Party has been gaining in Georgia in recent elections, and Congresswoman Nikema Williams, chair of the Democratic Party of Georgia, was chipper about her party’s prospects.

 Congresswoman Nikema Williams. Ross Williams/Georgia Recorder

“People are lined up this morning waiting to get in to qualify,” she said. “We’re gonna have a very diverse slate of candidates up and down the ticket, some new state legislative lines, we are gonna be competitive in places where we have not been competitive before, a few more fair districts on the ballot, so I am looking forward to Georgia Democrats performing in every corner of every county.”

If Georgians are excited about the Democrats in the corners of their counties, they are less jazzed up about the Democrat in the figurative corners of the Oval Office.

A recent Bloomberg News/Morning Consult poll found that if the election were held last month, 45% of the respondents said they would have given their vote to presumptive Republican nominee former President Donald Trump while 38% would go for President Joe Biden.

As he shook hands with and chatted with newly official GOP candidates, Georgia Republican Party Chair Josh McKoon predicted Biden’s weakness would help Republicans chalk up wins this November.

“Like in many other states, immigration and the economy are the top two issues,” he said. “(Trump) has been talking about immigration for eight years. He’s got a huge advantage over President Biden on that issue. He’s got an advantage over President Biden on the economy. People vote their pocketbooks. They vote national security, and I think that means they’re going to be voting Republican in November for President Trump and the rest of our ticket.”

 Rep. Rich McCormick speaks with Georgia Republican Party Chair John McKoon after qualifying to run for re-election Ross Williams/Georgia Recorder

Biden is not Mr. Popular in the state, but Trump is also disliked by many Georgians. The same Morning Consult poll found Trump’s somewhat unfavorable and very unfavorable ratings were 12% and 40% respectively, while 30% had a very favorable opinion and 16% said had a somewhat favorable opinion.

Biden scored a very unfavorable rating from 45% of respondents, with another 13% holding a somewhat unfavorable opinion. The president was seen as very favorable by 21% and somewhat favorable by 18%.

Williams said she was “excited” to have Biden at the top of the ballot, and touted some of his accomplishments, including the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act. She said Democrats will be working between now and November to remind Georgians about those accomplishments.

“Elections are hard. We’re a true battleground state now,” she said. “We’re not blue, we’re not red, we’re periwinkle. But we’ve got work to do. We have to continue to get our message out to the voters and make sure that they understand who has delivered for them. Democrats deliver day in and day out.”

District shuffle

One Democrat, Congresswoman Lucy McBath, is hoping to deliver to another district, yet again.

McBath, now of the 7th District, is running in the 6th District after a federal judge approved a redistricting plan that made her seat friendlier to Republicans.

McBath said she is used to this sort of thing. She flipped the 6th District in 2018, but 2021’s redistricting plan drew the 6th as more conservative, so McBath challenged and defeated fellow Democrat Carolyn Bourdeaux for her seat in the 7th.

 Congresswoman Lucy McBath speaks with reporters after qualifying to run for re-election. Ross Williams/Georgia Recorder

“We keep having these discussions over and over again, but I’m happy to represent any constituent,” she said. “I’m happy to continue to do the work, and I have decided, as I have in every election, I will not let the extreme Republicans determine when my work in Congress has done. I will let the people decide.”

McBath has so far drawn one challenger from each party. Republican roadside service provider Jeff Criswell threw in his hat Monday, and so did Democratic state Rep. Mandisha Thomas of South Fulton.

The district shuffle means Republican Congressman Rich McCormick will be sliding from the 6th District to the 7th, where he qualified Monday.

Georgia Recorder is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Georgia Recorder maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor John McCosh for questions: Follow Georgia Recorder on Facebook and Twitter.

This article is republished from Georgia Recorder under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.