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Jeff Amy, Associated Press
Jeff Amy, Associated Press
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ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia takes center stage in Tuesday’s primary elections as Gov. Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger try to fight back challengers endorsed by former President Donald Trump, who is seeking revenge for his 2020 election defeat in the state.
WATCH: Breaking down the primary results and what they mean for midterm elections
U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia is testing Republican voters’ tolerance for controversy in her primary. On the Democratic side, U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath and U.S. Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux are facing off after McBath switched districts because of redistricting.
Trump’s desire for vengeance has fueled the primary challenges to Kemp and Raffensperger, both of whom defied his pressure to overturn Georgia’s 2020 presidential election results.
Trump recruited former U.S. Sen. David Perdue to take on Kemp for the Republican gubernatorial nomination, but Perdue has lagged in polls and fundraising. Kemp has been increasingly confident the GOP will send him forward to a November rematch with Stacey Abrams, who is unopposed for the Democratic nomination.
Raffensperger, the state’s top elections official, is facing a tough challenge from U.S. Rep. Jody Hice, who has promoted Trump’s lies that widespread voter fraud or tampering cost him the 2020 election.
Trump’s candidate for U.S. Senate, football legend Herschel Walker, appears to be cruising to the Republican nomination despite some GOP leaders warning that Walker will be unelectable in November against Democratic incumbent Raphael Warnock. Walker has been accused of threatening his ex-wife’s life, exaggerating his business record and lying about graduating from the University of Georgia.
Greene, a political lightning rod, is trying to stave off multiple Republican challengers. The Trump-backed firebrand was stripped of her committee assignments last year over racist remarks, her embrace of conspiracy theories and a past endorsement of violence. A group of voters tried but failed to knock her off the ballot, accusing her of helping foment the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
In the Atlanta area, an unfavorable new district led Rep. McBath to jump into a Democratic primary against fellow Rep. Bourdeaux. McBath said her push to stay in Congress was about fighting for gun safety on behalf of her son Jordan, who was killed in a shooting 10 years ago.
Georgia was among three states, along with Alabama and Arkansas, holding regular primaries Tuesday. Texas had runoff elections for the GOP primary for attorney general and for a Democratic congressional seat, while Minnesota was holding a special primary for the seat of former Republican U.S. Rep. Jim Hagedorn, who died in February.
Georgia —- along with other states that have held early primaries — has seen a dramatic decline in the use of mailed ballots since the record numbers reported in 2020 at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, when voters were seeking alternatives to crowded polling places.
Across the state, election officials and voting rights groups reported a few instances of polling locations opening late, minor equipment troubles and some voters finding themselves at the wrong voting location. State election officials said a drawn-out redistricting process gave election offices tight deadlines to ensure that all voters were assigned to their proper precinct.
Voting was expected to be extended by one hour — until 8 p.m. Eastern — at five precincts in Georgia that delayed their morning opening. There were no immediate reports of major voting issues in the other states.
Tuesday’s primary was the first major election since the GOP-controlled Legislature and Republican governor adopted tighter rules following the 2020 presidential election and amid a concerted effort by former President Donald Trump to cast doubt on his loss with unsubstantiated claims of fraud.
The new Georgia elections law made several changes. It made it harder to request a mail ballot by shortening the period voters can apply for one and added new ID requirements to the applications and the ballot itself. Voters could request a ballot online two years ago, but now they must print or obtain a paper form, sign it in ink and send it in by mail, email or fax.
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