The TAKE with Rick Klein
The race to be governor of Georgia is Tuesday’s main event, featuring boldface names and familiar stakes in a critical state that will be closely watched this midterm year and well beyond.
But with former President Donald Trump’s pick in that race headed toward what’s likely to be a lopsided defeat, a group of lower-profile primaries up and down the ballot could offer more intriguing hints about the state of affairs inside both parties.
The more impactful contest in Georgia might be for secretary of state, where incumbent Brad Raffensperger drew a primary challenger endorsed by Trump, Rep. Jody Hice, after standing behind President Joe Biden’s victory. That race could determine who oversees voting and vote counting in the state in 2024.
Alyssa Pointer/ReutersGeorgia Governor Brian Kemp attends a rally ahead of the state’s Republican primary, in Kennesaw, Ga., May 23, 2022.
Trump’s impact cuts at odd angles in races including Alabama’s Senate contest, where he dumped Rep. Mo Brooks but Brooks has stood by Trump. Brooks, improbably, remains in the mix for the Republican nomination.
The Trump angles might be even odder in Texas, where embattled Attorney General Ken Paxton is expected to prevail in a runoff for his current job against Land Commissioner George P. Bush. Bush is the only prominent member of his family to embrace Trump, but the former president still backed Paxton after Paxton led national legal efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election.
Also in Texas, the only current House Democrat to oppose abortion, Rep. Henry Cuellar, has a progressive primary challenger, Jessica Cisneros, in the latest round of what’s become an episodic series of establishment-backed Democrats facing off with outsiders.
In Georgia, two Democratic stars of previous election cycles — Rep. Lucy McBath and Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux — are running against each other because of redistricting. And a long-shot bid to oust Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene in a GOP primary comes just a week after the similarly polarizing Rep. Madison Cawthorn’s reelection effort ended in defeat in North Carolina.
Big voting nights are tempting targets for sweeping takeaways, particularly in the era of Trump. But individual races are again likely to reflect more complicated and more local political dynamics.
The RUNDOWN with Averi Harper
Georgia’s incumbent secretary of state Brad Raffensperger is hoping to stave off a primary challenge from Trump-backed Jody Hice. Raffensperger’s resistance to pressure from then-President Trump notorious call to “find” votes to swing the election in Trump’s favor earned him a spot on Trump’s political hit list.
Now, Raffensperger is hinging his candidacy on the notion of keeping non-citizens from voting.
Hice objected to the counting of Georgia’s electoral votes and he has continued to say, even a year and a half after the 2020 election, that he would try and decertify the results. The possibility of having a person who espouses false claims about the 2020 election at the helm of elections has alarmed Democrats in the state, especially with 2024 presidential election approaching.
Erik S. Lesser/EPA-EFE/ShutterstockGeorgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger participates in a news conference in Atlanta, May 4, 2022
While Democrats have five candidates on the secretary of state ballot, Bee Nguyen, a state lawmaker who holds the same seat previously held by Stacey Abrams, is considered a favorite to win.
Nguyen rose to prominence through her work to debunk GOP claims of voter fraud after 2020. She also organized Georgians against the state’s controversial election legislation. If she prevails in the primary and the general election, Nguyen, who is the child of Vietnamese immigrants, could be the first Asian-American to hold statewide office in Georgia.
The TIP with Brittany Shepherd
Former President Trump and former Vice President Mike Pence’s conscious uncoupling may finally be complete. Their political divorce is playing out on a national stage — in part through their dueling endorsement in Georgia’s Republican gubernatorial primary. Pence is backing Gov. Brian Kemp, a frequent target of Trump’s ire.
On the eve of Tuesday’s primary, Pence and Kemp campaigned together in Kennesaw, Georgia, where Pence bragged he was “for Brian Kemp before it was cool.” There, Pence boasted that Kemp was the only candidate able to face presumptive Democratic nominee Stacey Abrams and win (albeit narrowly, in 2018). One name noticeably absent from Pence’s rallying cry was his former boss. Over the past year Pence has not-so-subtly laid the groundwork for a presidential run of his own. In fact, in a New York Times article published Monday morning, Pence said he would “go where we’re called” when asked if he’d rule out vying for the White House in 2024.
In the opposite corner, Trump has endorsed David Perdue, a former Senator who backs Trump’s debunked claims of a stolen and fraudulent election. Earlier Monday afternoon, Perdue suggested that he might not accept the results of his primary depending “on if there’s fraud or not.” He also said polls showing him trailing Kemp were “full of crap.” In a virtual rally Monday night, Trump said his candidate was the “only candidate who can beat Stacey Abrams because I don’t believe Kemp can do it.”
The Democratic National Committee painted Pence as an opportunist for flying into Georgia to support Kemp, the clear front-runner, as “nothing more than another example of Pence being a coward who only does what is politically convenient.”
And for once, Trump and the DNC may agree. In that same Times article, a Trump spokesperson said Pence was “desperate to chase his lost relevance.”
Alyssa Pointer/ReutersFormer U.S. Vice President Mike Pence attends a rally for Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, ahead of the state’s Republican primary, in Kennesaw, Ga., May 23, 2022.
NUMBER OF THE DAY, powered by FiveThirtyEight
10. That’s the number of big primaries to watch in Georgia on Tuesday night. And as FiveThirtyEight’s Geoffrey Skelley writes, Georgia might be Trump’s biggest test yet. He’s endorsed seven non-incumbent Republican candidates in races for Senate, the House, governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state and attorney general; and in many of those races, starting with Georgia’s governor race, Trump’s preferred candidate might not win. There’s definitely more action on the GOP side in Georgia, but we’ll also be keeping a close eye on the 7th Congressional District, as it’s the second incumbent-vs-incumbent matchup of the season. Be sure to join us on the FiveThirtyEight liveblog as we cover Georgia’s primaries, as well as Alabama’s, Arkansas’s, Minnesota’s and Texas, starting at 6:30 p.m. ET.
ABC News’ “Start Here” Podcast. “Start Here” begins Tuesday morning with ABC’s Patrick Reevell on his exclusive interview with Trevor Reed, the American freed from Russia in a prisoner exchange last month. And, religion writer Jonathan Merritt details an investigative report on the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee that says top leaders stonewalled survivors of clergy sex abuse.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY
Share to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this article