June 21, 2022


Runoff!

Most of the action in today’s primary runoff is on the Democratic side of the aisle, starting with the contest between Joyce Marie Griggs and Wade Herring for the party’s nomination to face incumbent Rep. Earl “Buddy” Carter in the general election in November.

In the final hours of campaigning, Griggs and Herring know what matters in a primary: door-knocking and phone-calling to urge your supporters to the polls. Herring is stressing his differences with Griggs over abortion and gun control, saying he is the only candidate left in the race who is pro-choice and supports “common sense” gun laws.

Meanwhile, Griggs, the frontrunner, is playing down a GPB report on Friday that she had failed to meet a deadline for filing her candidacy application with the Federal Election Commission.

When asked by GPB’s Benjamin Payne why she did not file a statement of candidacy until June, Griggs said, “No, we filed that, gosh, early part of the year so, I don’t know why that’s showing up. But we filed early on.” She was unable, however, to provide documentation to support her claim of an earlier filing, Payne notes.

Here’s the Griggs-Herring race by the numbers:

—Griggs, a three-time candidate for the 1st District congressional seat, came within 1.41% of the vote, or about 635 votes, of winning outright in the first round of the primary.

—Out of 45,052 ballots cast on May 24, Griggs defeated first-time candidate Herring by 4,773 votes, or 10.59%. Michelle Munroe, the third candidate in the race, came in a distant third, with 6,043 votes.

—As few as half of the 45,052 voters who cast ballots in the first round of the primary — or 22,526 voters — are expected to do so in the runoff, which means victory or defeat could be decided by hundreds of votes.

—Those 22,526 voters comprise about 3% of Coastal Georgia’s total population.


Not just U.S. Congress

In Chatham County, the school board seat for District 5 will be on the runoff ballot, with Rev. Paul Smith facing Theresa Watson. Voters also will choose a new Recorder’s Court judge, either Garden City Municipal Court Judge Joe Huffman or Bloomingdale Municipal Court Judge Richard Sanders.

In Glynn County, Mike Hodges faces Jeff Jones in the race for the Republican nomination for the District 3 seat in the Georgia Senate. And Rick Townsend is running against Bob Duncan for the District 179 seat in the state House of Representatives.


Republican candidates await

Statewide, Democratic voters will decide the party’s challengers for four of Georgia’s top constitutional offices.

For lieutenant governor, it’s former Congressman and Atlanta City Council member Kwanza Hall versus 2018 Democratic nominee for attorney general and former prosecutor, Charlie Bailey.

For secretary of state, it’s Rep. Bee Nguyen, the first Asian American woman member of the Georgia General Assembly and nonprofit executive from Atlanta, versus former state Rep. Dee Dawkins-Haigler, a consultant and minister from Lithonia.

For insurance commissioner, it’s Janice Laws Robinson, the 2018 nominee, versus Raphael Baker. Both are veterans of the insurance industry.

For labor commissioner, it’s William Boddie versus Nicole Horn, an organizer and former workforce training business owner.


Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger delivers a press conference Nov. 4, 2020. As part of the SB 202 election law, state lawmakers stripped the secretary of state as chair of the State Election Board. Credit: GPB News

Talk about a busy day in Georgia politics . . .

Georgia steps to center stage again in Washington today, as the House select committee examining the Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the U.S. Capitol looks at then-President Donald Trump’s efforts to pressure state officials as part of his broader campaign to remain in office for a second term after losing the 2020 election.

Today’s hearing will feature Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and Gabriel Sterling, Georgia’s voting system implementation manager. It is the committee’s fourth public hearing.

It was Raffensperger who, on Jan. 2, 2021, received a personal phone call from Trump who claimed he had won Georgia and asked the secretary of state to “find” thousands of votes that would swing victory away from Joe Biden.

And it was Sterling who, in early December 2020, held a news conference in Atlanta in which he warned that Trump’s efforts to overturn the election had “gone too far.”

“Stop inspiring people to commit potential acts of violence,” Sterling said, addressing the president. “Someone’s going to get hurt. Someone’s going to get shot. Someone’s going to get killed.”


The Port of Savannah set a monthly record in May for handling more than 519,000 20-foot equivalent container units. Credit: Georgia Ports Authority / Jeremy Polston

Supply chains

President Biden last week signed into law legislation that the administration and the bill’s supporters hope will curb escalating international ocean shipping costs and ease supply chain backlogs that are raising prices for consumers and making it harder for U.S. farmers and exporters to move their goods to the global market. 

“This bill will make progress reducing costs for families and ensuring fair treatment for American businesses—including farmers and ranchers,” Biden said after the House of Representatives approved the legislation on June 13 and sent it to his desk for his signature.

Sen. Raphael Warnock cosponsored the bill in the Senate. Rep. Buddy Carter was one of 156 Republicans to vote for it in the House. Georgia Reps. Andrew Clyde and Barry Loudermilk were among the 42 Republicans who voted against it.

While shipping costs remain 41% higher globally compared to this time last year, according to one of the bill’s supporters, the Port of Savannah is going gangbusters. The second-largest container port on America’s eastern seaboard, last month recorded another record month, handling 8.5% more cargo than in April of last year.


U.S. Rep. Earl L. “Buddy” Carter Credit: Craig Nelson/The Current

Getting credit

At a hearing last week of the House Budget Committee in Washington, Rep. Earl L. “Buddy” Carter and Union City Mayor Vince Williams wrangled over who gets most of the credit for getting Georgia back on its feet as the pandemic began to subside: the Biden administration’s American Rescue Plan or Gov. Brian Kemp?  

Carter and Williams, who is also president of the National League of Cities, also quibbled (good naturedly) over whether Georgia is a blue or red state.

Carter has disputed the death toll from Covid, which last month surpassed one million, according to the Centers for Disease Control. He also says he will run for the chairmanship of the House Budget Committee if he and his party win in November.


U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock

Warnock on pending gun control legislation

“If we don’t get anything done this time, it will be a signal moment of moral failure on our behalf, and it would suggest that the politics is more important than the people. And I just refuse to accept that premise. . . We’ve got to get something done here for the American people.”

Sen. Raphael Warnock to the Washington Post’s Jonathan Capehart, June 20, 2022


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Craig Nelson is a former international correspondent for The Associated Press, the Sydney (Australia) Morning-Herald, Cox Newspapers and The Wall Street Journal. He also served as foreign editor for The...