Nine legislative seats are up for grabs in Tuesday elections

[private]Nine empty seats in the Georgia House and Senate will be the subjects of special elections Tuesday, although not all of them will be decided on that day.

Only two of the elections will be settled for sure in Tuesday’s balloting, and Dec. 5 runoffs are a distinct possibility in the seven remaining contests because of the number of candidates that qualified.

Most of the seats became vacant when the incumbents resigned to run fulltime for other offices, including governor and lieutenant governor, resulting in one of the largest off-year election turnovers in some time.

The outcomes of the elections will not affect the balance of power in the General Assembly, where Republicans control nearly two-thirds of the seats in both chambers. In only one district, Senate District 6, is there a realistic possibility of a party flip.

House District 42

The winner of this Smyrna House seat was decided when qualifying ended, because only one candidate qualified: Democratic consultant Teri Anulewicz. She will replace Stacey Evans, who is running for the Democratic nomination for governor.

House District 117

We’ll know the winner of this House election, where Regina Quick stepped down to accept a judgeship, on Tuesday, because only two candidates qualified.

Republican Houston Gaines is the favorite in this GOP-leaning district. He’s a former student government president at the University of Georgia who’s running for a real-world political post. Gaines has also outraised attorney Deborah Gonzalez, his Democratic opponent, by $196,000 to $56,000.

There was a bit of a controversy in this race when Athens-Clarke County Mayor Nancy Denson endorsed Gaines, a move that resulted in Denson being booted from the county Democratic Party organization.

Senate District 6

This is one of the most closely-watched races because of the potential for a party change in a very competitive district that extends from Smyrna on the west to Buckhead in the east.

Republican Hunter Hill resigned in the middle of his third term to run fulltime for governor and a total of eight candidates are running to replace him: five Republicans and three Democrats.

There are no party primaries in these special elections – they are “jungle primaries” where every candidate is on one ballot regardless of party affiliation. Thus you have the possibility of a runoff with a Democrat and a Republican, or two Republicans, or two Democrats, depending on how the votes split up.

The Republican field includes attorney Leah Aldridge, whose $305,000 fundraising total includes a loan of $155,000; commercial real estate’s Charlie Fiveash, who loaned $30,000 to his campaign total of $152,000; attorney Matt Bentley (raised $84,000); and businesswoman Kathy Eichenblatt ($37,325).

Leo Smith, the former head of minority engagement for the state Republican Party, is running here but has filed no campaign disclosure reports with the state ethics commission.

On the Democratic side, pediatric dentist Jaha Howard raised the most with $318,000, while attorney Jen Jordan has raised $234,000 and Taos Wynn only $1,100.

Howard ran for this seat last year and finished only four points behind Hill. He has been forced to apologize for making anti-gay and misogynistic postings on social media outlets.

Jordan has the endorsements of the Daily Kos website and Georgia’s WIN List, while Howard was endorsed by the Georgia Association of Educators.

House District 119

This House seat, largely centered in Oconee County and heavily Republican, was vacated when Chuck Williams stepped down to become director of the Georgia Forestry Commission.

The race has attracted three Republicans: Lawton Lord, a funeral director who’s raised $57,000;
Marcus Wiedower, a project manager who’s raised $37,220; and Steven Strickland, a business director who raised just under $10,000.

The lone Democrat is Jonathan Wallace, a software developer who’s raised $39,000.

Senate District 39

Vincent Fort represented this heavily Democratic Senate district for 20 years before he resigned to run for mayor of Atlanta.

Nikema Williams, formerly the vice chair of state Democratic Party, appears to be running against some “ghost candidates” in this race. While she has raised nearly $70,000, none of the other three Democrats — Elijah Tutt, Linda Pritchett, or Marckeith Dejesus – has reported any contributions or expenditures.

Nick Carlson, a commercial real estate broker and lone Republican running, has reported raising only $400.

House District 4

There are three Republicans and one Democrat running in a very Republican Dalton district where Bruce Broadrick resigned for medical reasons.

Beau Patton, Eddie Caldwell, and restaurant owner Kasey Carpenter are the Republicans in this low-budget race, where Carpenter has raised only $19,000 and Caldwell $15,000. Patton has filed no campaign disclosure reports.

Computer programmer Peter Pocsiask is the lone Democrat in this race and has reported raising just $2,310.

House District 26

This Forsyth County seat in one of Georgia’s reddest areas should be a slam-dunk for one of the two Republicans running: Marc Morris or Tina Trent. The winner will replace Geoff Duncan, who resigned to run for lieutenant governor.

The token Democrat in the race is retail manager Steve Smith. This is another low-budget race where none of the candidates has reported raising more than $8,000.

House District 89

Stacey Abrams, who had been the House minority leader, resigned from this DeKalb County House seat to run fulltime for governor, leaving it up to four Democratic candidates to determine a replacement.

The top two money raisers are attorney Sachin Varghese, who’s raised $124,000, and non-profit director Bee Nguyen, who has raised $88,000. Attorneys David Abbott and Monique Keane have reported raising less than $10,000 each.

Varghese got an early endorsement from Jason Carter, the Democratic candidate for governor in 2014, while Nguyen was endorsed by Georgia’s WIN List.

House District 60

Three Democrats qualified for the right to replace Keisha Waites, who resigned from this Atlanta House seat to run for the Fulton County Commission.

The candidates in this low-budget race include De’Andre Pickett, an educator, healthcare consultant Kim Schofield, and Sparkle Adams, a former member of the Forest Park City Council.

© 2017 by The Georgia Report

Tags: special legislative elections