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Georgia 2018 midterm recap – sans gubernatorial squabble

Georgia will likely see the same political scene it has for several years, following this year’s midterm election. Republican leadership will prevail across the state in offices such as lieutenant governor and attorney general. Additionally, 13 of the 14 districts for federal offices in Georgia saw no party change. Incumbents across the board swept up a returning term.

Georgia Statewide Offices

Winning every single race they entered, the Republican party dominated the field in their bid for statewide offices. Voters will see many of the same faces, given that incumbents took five of the eight positions available, excluding the governorship.

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As incumbent Casey Cagle stepped down from the position of Lieutenant Governor, Geoff Duncan rose to the position in victory. Duncan had previously served in the State House since 2012.

Duncan has prioritized three main focuses in his campaign. He first intends to improve Georgia’s economy by cutting back on government spending. His campaign strategy outlined that Duncan “would have churches, charities, corporations, and citizens as the front line of defense against challenges in our state, not another government program.”

Duncan has taken an interest in improving education by empowering parents and teachers and rolling back on state and federal government interaction. As a pro-life advocate, he has promised to fight against Planned Parenthood.

For the position of attorney general, Georgia voters chose Chris Carr to retain the position. Carr was appointed by Governor Nathan Deal to fill a vacancy in 2016.

“I’m proud to have earned Georgians’ support to continue to serve as attorney general,” Carr said. “I look forward to building upon what we’ve accomplished in these last two years at the Law Department as we head into the next four.”

Both Carr and his opponent promised the prevention of gang violence and human trafficking if elected. Carr also took a stance on protecting both constitutional and state powers and combating opioid abuse as attorney general.

“All of these actions affect [Georgia State] students. Perhaps one that touches students the most is the issue of opioid abuse,” he said. “We have and will continue to engage students in the fight against opioid misuse by equipping them with the knowledge they need to avoid potentially dangerous, life-altering situations and help their peers do the same.”

The closest statewide race was that of the secretary of state, which resulted in a 0.61 percent standoff between Republican Brad Raffensperger and Democrat John Barrow. This position was set to be filled by a new candidate, as the previous representative, Brian Kemp, vyed for governor instead.

Despite Raffensperger taking the lead, neither candidate received 50 percent of the vote, triggering a runoff election. Libertarian candidate Smythe Duval received 2.23 percent of the vote on top of an already close race.

Georgia must wait until Tuesday, Dec. 4 to vote again for the new head of election and voting processes.

U.S. House of Representatives

Across the nation, all 435 House of Representatives positions were open for reelection. In Georgia, two of these found themselves in the spotlight.

Georgia’s sixth district consists of the northeast suburbs and much of the Atlanta metropolitan area, comprised of parts of Cobb, Fulton, Dunwoody and Dekalb county.

The district gained national attention for its 2017 special election, as it became the most expensive House race in U.S. history. Between Republican Karen Handel and Democrat Jon Ossoff, Handel ultimately took the win after a runoff.

Handel ran again as the incumbent on Nov. 6, facing off against Democrat Lucy McBath. McBath positioned herself as a strong gun safety advocate, following the 2012 murder of her son, Jordan Russell Davis.

With a motivation for justice and 50.46 of the vote, McBath narrowly defeated Handel, who later conceded the election.

In Georgia’s seventh district, comprised of portions of Forsyth and Gwinnett counties, Republican Rob Woodall ran as the incumbent. Woodall had held the position for seven years and never dipped below 60 percent of the vote in the general election.

Opposing him was democratic candidate Carolyn Bourdeaux, who is a Georgia State professor in the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies. She taught public management and policy with a focus on budgets and tax policy before taking a leave of absence for the 2018 school year.

The race was decided by just 0.14 percent, with Woodall squeaking out a 419-vote win.

Despite this, Bourdeaux refused to concede due to outstanding ballots that were not yet counted, according to Jake Best, communications director for her campaign.

“[The day after the election] there remained 14 U.S. House races that remained too close to call and of those this was the closest race in the nation,” Best said.

The first point of contention for the campaign was the 2,400 provisional ballots that had not been counted in Gwinnett county, although an unknown amount were directly associated with the seventh district.

“Let’s say you go to vote on Tuesday, but you vote in the wrong precinct, then they make you vote on a provisional ballot,” Best said. “When they can’t immediately fix the problem, they make you vote on this temporary ballot.”

The second discussion the campaign sparked was the rejection of absentee ballots, in which there is an envelope the ballot is inserted with lines for the address, date of birth and signature of the voter.

“What a lot of people were accustomed to, and ended up doing, was put the current date next to a signature, instead of date of birth,” he said.

Because of this, ballots were rejected and not counted in Gwinnett County. One in ten absentee ballots are rejected in Gwinnett County, the highest rate of rejection in Georgia.

Best said Gwinnett County argues that these were rejected due to a lack of proof of identity, however he argues that this is done when applying for the ballot and the voter would not have received the ballot in the first place if this were the case.

Bourdeaux’s campaign then filed a emergency motion in federal court, which the U.S. District Judge denied on Thursday. On the following morning, Bourdeaux said she would request a recount after the state certified election results that evening, since the difference between the candidates was less than one percent.

“The current standing is Woodall has a 901 vote lead,” Best said a week after the election.

Since the year 2000, Democratic representation from Georgia in the U.S. House has hovered at 25 percent, as Republicans represented the majority of the state.

In this midterm election, aside from the sixth, every district in Georgia saw the incumbent as a victor, resulting in no party changes. Georgia will be represented by nine Republicans and five Democrats following the election.

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