Open statewide seats, House challenges down Georgia ballot

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By: Associated Press
May 22, 2018

ATLANTA (AP) - Georgia voters have plenty of election contests to settle after casting their Republican and Democratic primary ballots for governor.

Both parties have competitive races Tuesday for lieutenant governor and secretary of state. Both of those offices are being vacated by GOP incumbents running for governor.

Republican candidate Casey Cagle, Georgia's lieutenant governor, hopes to win enough support to avoid a runoff. Challenging Cagle are Secretary of State Brian Kemp and state Sen. Michael Williams.

Democrats will tap either Stacey Abrams or Stacey Evans as the state's first female nominee for governor from either major party.

The state insurance commissioner's seat is also open because the incumbent, Republican Ralph Hudgens, decided not to run again.

Meanwhile, state School Superintendent Richard Woods is battling for re-election against fellow Republican John Barge, who held the office before stepping aside four years ago to run unsuccessfully for governor.

Five Georgia congressmen also face primary opposition from within their own parties.

Georgia's Democratic voters have turned out in force in early voting. The initial tally could encourage Democrats hoping for a "blue wave" of wins in the state, the crown jewel of which would be the Georgia governor's mansion.

Republican ballots made up approximately 61 percent of early and absentee primary votes in 2014 and 2016, according to data from Secretary of State Brian Kemp's office. Democratic ballots made up just 37 percent those years.

This year, the Republican share of early and absentee primary ballots has shrunk to just 53 percent, while Democrats' share has climbed to 46 percent.

Voters will get their final chance to cast a ballot in Tuesday's primaries. Georgia's primaries are open, meaning any voter can choose either a Democratic or Republican primary ballot.

Several crowded races could require runoffs July 24 if no candidate finishes with more than 50 percent of the vote.

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