Kemp wins GA Gov primary over Trump-backed Perdue; Warnock to face Walker for Senate; live updates


GOP Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp fended off a challenge by David Perdue in the Republican primary, crushing the Trump-backed candidate by a roughly 3-1 margin.

As a guitar-wielding country singer sang an array of old tunes, Kemp supporters began cheering as various websites called the race for their governor. Kemp backers sampled the bar and chatted with each other at the College Football Hall of Fame building in downtown Atlanta.

Kemp will speak in a meeting room in which the carpeted floor is lined like a football field. A goal post is at the opposite end from the speaker’s stage.

Georgia Democrats voted as expected Tuesday, nominating Stacey Abrams for governor and renominating Sen. Raphael Warnock. Warnock will face former football star Herschel Walker, who easily won the race for Republican nomination after getting the backing of former President Donald Trump.

Georgia was one of four Southern states Tuesday holding primaries in contests that reflect the nation’s greatest fault lines and again test former President Trump’s GOP power.

Former Vice President Mike Pence, headlines a Get Out the Vote Rally with Governor Brian Kemp, on the eve of Georgia's primary at the Cobb County International Airport on Monday, May 23, 2022, in Kennesaw. (Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP) ORG XMIT: GAATJ402

Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala., seeks to climb out from behind Trump’s shadow, after the former president revoked his endorsement for Brooks’ senatorial campaign following comments Brooks made about moving on from 2020.

In Arkansas, Sarah Huckabee Sanders — once Trump’s White House press secretary — is running to helm the state of Arkansas as governor, a role her father once held. Her opponent in the state’s Republican primary is former radio talk show host Francis “Doc” Washburn.

And several runoff races in Texas will showcase voters’ resolve on abortion rights and whether the influence of the Bush family still holds strong.

Primary roundup:The primary races to watch on Tuesday (and why)

But politicos have Georgia on their mind, where incumbent Republican Gov. Brian Kemp is gunning for a second term against Trump-backed former Sen. David Perdue, a race that spotlights the deepening cracks within the Republican Party.

Trump is fighting to defeat Kemp, who refused to overturn Georgia’s 2020 presidential election result in favor of Trump. In turn, the former president endorsed Perdue and ponied up $500,000 to a super PAC aimed at preventing Kemp’s reelection. But former Vice President Mike Pence has aligned his interests with Kemp, describing him in a statement announcing they’d throw a rally together as “one of the most successful conservative governors in America.”

Georgia’s gubernatorial primaries will also highlight Democratic candidate Stacey Abrams’ efforts to mobilize voters and turn the Peach state blue.

Plus, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., will face five opponents in her first reelection bid after a 14th Amendment challenge to her eligibility as a candidate could have prevented her from running again at all.

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Ken Paxton wins Texas attorney general GOP primary runoff 

Embattled incumbent Ken Paxton won the Texas GOP attorney general primary runoff against Land Commissioner George P. Bush, a scion of the Bush family dynasty, according to CNN and NBC. 

Paxton defeated Bush despite the legal controversies the attorney general is facing, which include charges of securities fraud and a separate FBI investigation.

The attorney general consistently led Bush in the polls leading up to Tuesday’s runoff. 

– Mabinty Quarshie 

Marjorie Taylor Greene wins primary reelection bid

Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, whose penchant for conspiracy theories and fiery social media posts made her a far-right fan favorite, won her renomination bid to represent Georgia’s 14th Congressional District for another two years. 

But the Georgia congresswoman almost didn’t get to run at all. 

A group of Georgia voters sought to disqualify Greene from running for office, citing her purported ties to the Jan. 6 Capitol riot and calling them violation of the 14th Amendment’s insurrection clause. Greene loudly disputed those charges and said during a hearing about her eligibility that she had “no knowledge” of any attempt to unlawfully interfere with the electoral process.

The claims were dismissed by Georgia’s secretary of state and an administrative law judge.

Greene will likely face Democrat Marcus Flowers in the state’s midterm election, who is currently leading his primary.

– Ella Lee

Kemp camp hopeful GOP will unite against Abrams

As Kemp backers started to celebrate, they expressed confidence – or at least hope – that the Georgia Republicans (and Trump) would come together in the fall to defeat Abrams.

Mark Hamilton, 66, an Atlanta resident and a former aide to Kemp, said he and other Republicans like and respect Trump, but “at the same time, Gov, Kemp is our governor, and we support him.”

Kemp backers said they weren’t sure if Trump would now endorse him, but they expect at least Perdue to work for the governor’s re-election.

No one will out-work Brian Kemp, let’s put it that way,” said Terry Rogers, 68, a political consultant from Clarksville, Ga.

The Uvalde, Texas school massacre put a damper on the festivities. Erick Erickson, the conservative radio talk show host, addressed the crowd and led them in prayer for the victims of the elementary school shooting. The Kemp supporters also observed a minute of silence.

– David Jackson

Democrats confident Abrams can beat Kemp in November

Stephanie Jackson Ali, policy director for New Georgia Project Action Fund, said she is confident Democrat Stacey Abrams will defeat Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp in the general election.

“I think she just needs to tell the truth about all the many ways that Brian Kemp has not served our state and our community,” said Ali.

2021 Ripple of Hope award recipient Stacey Abrams speaks at the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Ripple of Hope Award Gala at New York Hilton Midtown on Dec. 9.

Ali pointed to the Peach State’s high maternity mortality rates as one reason why Abrams will win in the gubernatorial election.

“I think Brian Kemp’s record speaks for itself. And Stacey Abrams ain’t gotta do nothing but point to it,” Ali said. “And Georgians will make their decision for what works best for them.”

– Mabinty Quarshie

Trump-backed Herschel Walker, former football star, wins primary race 

Former football celebrity Herschel Walker will challenge incumbent Sen. Raphael Warnock to serve as one of Georgia’s two senators after winning his primary race Tuesday. 

Walker, who is backed by former President Donald Trump, beat out five other Republican challengers to be the state’s GOP nominee for one of its Senate seats.

More:Who is Herschel Walker? The former football star is running for Senate in Georgia as a Republican.

Warnock was Georgia’s first Black Senator, and Walker is also Black. Though Georgia will have another African American Senator no matter which candidate wins, Warnock and Walker have vastly different views of what it means to be Black in America. While Warnock has been outspoken on racial issues, Walker has downplayed the effects of racism in America. 

The contest between Walker and Warnock could be tight, with RealClearPolitics’ latest polling data between the pair placing Walker a half point ahead of incumbent Warnock. But claims of stalking and abuse by Walker’s past partners and other women could upend his bid for office in the coming months. 

– Ella Lee 

Sen. Raphael Warnock renominated by Democrats

Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock easily won his primary race in Georgia as he seeks to seize his first full term in office.

The Atlanta minister, who serves as pastor of the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, became the Peach State’s first Black senator when he defeated Republican Kelly Loeffler in a special election runoff in 2021.

Warnock is likely to face former football star Herschel Walker, a Republican, who has the support of former President Donald Trump and establishment GOP lawmakers.

– Phillip M. Bailey

Abrams wins Democratic nomination for Georgia governor 

Stacey Abrams will once again be the Democratic nominee for Georgia governor after sailing through the primary contest unopposed. 

Abrams lost the 2018 contest for governor against Republican Brian Kemp by less than 2% and refused to concede in the ensuing months, citing voter suppression. 

Four years later, Abrams has become a rising star in the Democratic Party nationally as a voice for voting rights. She has led massive registration drives that many have credited with making Georgia a battleground state. 

In 2020, Abrams was rumored to be on the short list of President Joe Biden’s potential running mates. 

She was also heavily recruited to run for U.S. Senate but bypassed after citing her renewed passion to oppose election law changes being pushed in Republican-controlled state legislatures. 

If elected in November, Abrams would be the Peach State’s first Black governor. 

– Phillip M. Bailey

Georgia polls close, Abrams wins, other results still pending

Polls across the state of Georgia, where a number of closely watched primary races are underway, closed Tuesday at 7 p.m. Eastern time.

But the votes aren’t all counted yet, and most races haven’t been called. So far, only Democrat Stacey Abrams’ primary bid for governor has been called in her favor. She will face either Republican incumbent Gov. Brian Kemp or former Sen. David Perdue, who is backed by former President Donald Trump. Kemp is favored to win.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s primary race is also underway, along with the Senate contest between incumbent Rep. Raphael Warnock and football star Herschel Walker.

– Ella Lee

Texas candidates react to elementary school shooting that killed 15

Political candidates in runoff races across Texas shared condolences online Tuesday evening after a gunman killed 14 children and one teacher at an elementary school in south Texas. It’s the state’s deadliest school shooting.

“This is a devastating tragedy. How many more mass shootings do children have to experience before we say enough?” Jessica Cisneros, who is running for Congress in Texas’ 28th Congressional District, wrote on Twitter.

Live updates:14 students, 1 teacher killed in Texas elementary school shooting, Gov. Greg Abbott says

Candidates across several races — including Attorney General Ken Paxton, Rep. Henry Cueller and George P. Bush — asked for prayers for peace and strength for Uvalde, where the shooting took place, and the families of the victims. 

“I ask you all of you to join me in praying for our fellow Texans impacted by the horrific shooting in Uvalde today,” Paxton tweeted. “Lord, our refuge and strength, we pray for the souls of those lost, those who were wounded, their families, and our brave first responders.”

– Ella Lee

Runoff primary races in Texas

Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar is up against Jessica Cisneros in the primary runoff in South Texas.

Cisneros has campaigned against Cuellar for his anti-abortion stance amid the Supreme Court draft opinion leak earlier this month indicating the court will overturn Roe v. Wade. Cuellar is the only Democrat in the House who opposes abortion rights. 

Some leaders in the Democratic Party, including House Majority Whip James Clyburn and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, are supporting Cuellar, to the ire of abortion supporters in the party.

Meanwhile, in a statewide office, George P. Bush, a Texas Land Commissioner as well as nephew and grand-nephew of former presidents Bush, is an underdog running against Attorney General Ken Paxton.

Paxton faces charges of securities fraud and a separate FBI investigation, and is also under investigation by the state over his failed attempts to overturn the 2020 presidential election. Yet he is still doing well despite these challenges, according to the polls. 

– Merdie Nzanga, Mabinty Quarshie, David Jackson

Paper ballots briefly used after isolated malfunction in Dekalb County precinct

AVONDALE ESTATES, Ga. – Election workers briefly switched over to using paper ballots early in the day after a machine malfunction at one precinct in DeKalb County. 

Sean Kennedy said he tried to vote at a polling station at Avondale Estates City Hall, but after seeing the line created by the outage, he opted to return later in the day. 

“They were doing paper ballots, but I had to go to work,” Kennedy said. “My wife already voted, so I feel bad if I chicken out and don’t do it.”

Pence versus Trump?:Mike Pence says he could run for president in 2024 even if Trump also runs

Erik Burton, a county elections spokesperson, said that the incident was isolated. Election workers followed protocols before returning to regular voting, Burton said. 

The polling location had a line of about 24 people at about 6:30 p.m. EDT. Voters leaving the location place wait times in the 15 to 25 minutes range. 

– Catherine Buchaniec, Medill News Service

Georgia Rep. Lucy McBath, who lost son to gun violence, calls Texas shooting ‘sickening’

Rep. Lucy McBath, D-Ga., called the deadly shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas a “sickening, preventable tragedy.”

“Again in America, more families will now be forced to live forever with the pain of losing their precious children to unspeakable, senseless gun violence in a place where they should have been safe, happy, and free,” said McBath, whose son, Jordan Davis, was shot and killed in 2012.

Because of redistricting, McBath is running for Georgia’s 7th congressional seat against another incumbent: Democratic Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux. Everytown for Gun Safety, a gun control advocacy group, has endorsed McBath in the primary race.

“At a time when this nation is still reeling from the pain of recent shootings, we are faced with another sickening, preventable tragedy in Texas,” she added.

“We have to do something to fix this. We can do something to help fix this. We must do something to keep guns out of the hands of those who should not have them,” she said.

– Mabinty Quarshie

Don’t ‘sleep on midterm elections’

STOCKBRIDGE, Ga. – As voters trickled into Stockbridge First United Methodist Church on Tuesday for the primary elections, 37-year-old Farrah Clark said she hopes people don’t “sleep on midterm elections.”

“It’s very important for us to show up, just as we would do in the presidential race because this is how we get those laws that would benefit us,” Clark, a teacher from Henry County, said. “It’s choosing those right senators to represent us.”

lark said she turned out to vote for Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams in part because of their healthcare policies. Clark — whose father has diabetes and other health issues where the cost of medication is particularly high — said she liked the two Democratic candidates’ plans to expand Medicaid.

– Julia Shapero, Medill News Service

Who is Sarah Huckabee Sanders?

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the daughter of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, is expected to win the GOP primary, making her the odds-on favorite to win the red state in November and replace Gov. Asa Hutchinson. 

The former Trump press secretary is running against Francis “Doc” Washburn in the contest.

Former White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced that she is running for governor of Arkansas.

State Attorney General Leslie Rutledge was also in the race, but dropped out, as did Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin. 

Sanders was the first formal endorsement from Trump after he left office. 

Trump described her as a “warrior who will always fight for the people of Arkansas and do what is right, not what is politically correct.”

– Mabinty Quarshie, David Jackson

Flood of early voting in Georgia could mean short lines on election day

LOCUST GROVE, Ga. — After witnessing record turnout during early voting, some Georgia voters said they anticipated short wait times at the polls on Election Day. 

“I figured with the way things were going with so many people voting early that it will probably be less crowded today,” said Phil Gilbert. “I walked right in – only person there.”

Georgia saw historic turnout during the state’s early voting voting period. More than 850,000 voters cast a ballot in person or returned an absentee ballot before Election Day, according to the Georgia Secretary of State’s office. 

– Catherine Buchaniec, Medill News Service

Donald Trump’s take on David Perdue’s potential loss: Not much comment 

Donald Trump dealt with the prospect of an endorsed candidate’s loss the best way he knows how: By refusing to talk in detail about it.

Trump declined to discuss the probability that David Perdue will lose the Georgia gubernatorial primary to incumbent Republican Brian Kemp, preferring to discuss his more successful candidates during an interview Tuesday with Fox Business Network.

Republican candidate for Georgia governor and former U.S. Sen. David Perdue speaks in Dunwoody, Ga. on Monday, May 23, 2022. (AP Photo/Sudhin S. Thanawala) ORG XMIT: GAST102

“We’ve won just about every race,” Trump said, citing endorsed Republican Senate nominees J.D. Vance in Ohio and Ted Budd in North Carolina in particularly. He also cited Herschel Walker, who will likely win a Senate primary in Georgia on Tuesday.

Perdue?

“David Perdue’s a very good man,” Trump said. “And, as you know, Brian Kemp did a very poor job on election integrity … And we’ll see what that means to the voters.”

– David Jackson  

Georgia’s Senate Race Draws Support for Warnock

STOCKBRIDGE, Ga. – As voters head to the polls Tuesday, the race for one of Georgia’s Senate seats remains at the forefront of the state’s highly anticipated primary election. 

In January 2021, Georgia Sens. Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock helped Democrats gain control of the U.S. Senate after winning runoffs. But Warnock’s seat is on the ballot again this year because he was elected to fill the remaining two years of former GOP Sen. Johnny Isakson’ term.

U.S. Sen. Rev. Raphael Warnock votes Friday, May 6, 2022 in Atlanta, Ga., during early primary voting. (AP Photo/Ben Gray) ORG XMIT: GABG108

In Henry County, Tinecia Cullen said she turned out to vote to cast a ballot for Warnock and help Democrats maintain control of the Senate. 

“I think he’s helping,” Cullen said. “ I feel like he really cares about what I really care about.”

Cullen said she identifies with Warnock’s background. She was born and raised in Atlanta and has been to the church where Warnock preaches.

“I worry about the laws that are going to be passed if we don’t have representation,” she said. 

– Catherine Buchaniec, Medill News Service

Alabama votes for federal, state offices

Alabama voters go to the polls Tuesday to select nominees for a host of state and local offices, including governor, U.S. Senate, attorney general, secretary of state, state auditor, the Alabama Supreme Court, and the Public Service Commission. Primaries will also be held for U.S. House seats, the State Board of Education, and the Alabama Legislature. There will also be local races around the state.

The U.S. Senate race, to fill the seat of retiring Republican Sen. Richard Shelby, is among the highest-profile races. U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks got – and then lost – former President Donald Trump’s endorsement for that spot.

More:Yes, American voter demographics are changing. No, that’s not what Replacement Theory is

Polls will open until 7 p.m. A voter who is in line to vote when polls close will be able to cast a ballot.

A candidate will needs 50% or more of the vote to avoid a runoff. If no single candidate in a race gets a majority, the top two vote-getters will advance to a June 21 runoff.

– Brian Lyman, Montgomery Advertiser

When do the polls close?

First polls will close in Georgia at 7 p.m. the only state voting Tuesday in Eastern Time.

Texas polls close at 7 p.m. local time, with the state covering both Central and Mountain Time. Alabama polls also close at 7, and Arkansas ends voting at 7:30 pm, with both states in Central Time.

– Merdie Nzanga

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