Writer: Joshua Andino
2 min read July 2022— Georgia has become a key battleground state with the 2022 midterm elections promising to be competitive, reflecting both national trends and local issues.
Georgia proved itself to be one of the pivotal states of the 2020 election. The state’s importance has since only been elevated, receiving national attention for a variety of different races at both the local and federal levels. At the national level, races to watch include the Georgia governor’s election, where Republican Brian Kemp is once again facing Democrat Stacey Abrams. Democrat Sen. Rev. Raphael Warnock is looking to secure a second term against former football player, presidential advisor on sports, and Republican candidate Herschel Walker. For the U.S. House of Representatives, Georgia’s 14 seats are up for grabs. Republicans are looking to expand their 8-seat hold with Democrats defending 6 seats. 270towin forecasts Republicans solidifying their hold in the U.S. chamber by an additional seat, for a total of 9 Republican representatives and 5 Democrats.
At the municipal level, Fulton County, home to the state’s capital and largest city, Atlanta, will also see elections for Commission Districts 1 and 3. District 1, encompassing northeast Fulton, includes the four cities east of Georgia 400: Johns Creek, East Alpharetta, East Roswell and Sandy Springs. With current commission Vice-Chair and Republican Liz Hausman, who has occupied the seat since 2011, now running for Georgia State Senate, Democrat Maggie Goldman will be running against Republican Bridget Thorne to fill the position. Thorne, who works as a software designer, is a former voting technician who rose to local prominence after alleging irregularities in the vote count in 2020. Goldman is a local realtor and owner of Buy & Sell Differently
In Fulton County’s District 3, Republican-incumbent Lee Morris is facing off Democrat challenger Dana Barrett. Morris served as General Counsel and CFO of a local architectural firm for 32 years, whereas Barrett is a small business owner, having run her own tech consulting firm, coffee and bookshop, and now most recently as a talk radio host. District 3 encompasses the southern part of Sandy Springs, all of Buckhead and parts of Midtown.
Fulton County’s Commission Chairperson and District 5 races will see incumbents Robb Pitts and Marvin Arrington Jr. run unopposed in the November election, after both beat two Democratic primary challengers each in their respective races. The election for magistrate court was decided in May with incumbent Cassandra Kirk running unopposed, leaving the nonpartisan position of Soil and Water Supervisor as the last of Fulton County’s elections underway.
As per the City of Atlanta proper, Andre Dickens assumed the office of the mayor earlier this year on Jan. 3. Officially, the position is nonpartisan, although Dickens is affiliated with the Democratic Party. His term will run until 2026, when Atlantans will once again decide who will run their city.
Regarding issues, thanks in part to the controversies surrounding Kemp’s Election Integrity Act of 2021, Abram’s deep involvement in organizing Democratic voters as well as the claims of fraud from former President Donald Trump in the 2020 election, election integrity, or voting rights, depending on who you ask, have taken an uncharacteristically large role throughout the current election cycle across the state, at both the local and federal levels. Bridget Thorne, the Fulton County District 1 candidate, cites election integrity as the reason for launching her candidacy. At the gubernatorial level, Kemp has seen local Republicans thank him by securing his candidacy against Trump-backed challenger and former Sen. David Perdue. For Abram’s part, who lost in 2018 by around 55,000 votes – the closest of Georgia’s gubernatorial elections since 1966 – is no doubt looking to increase turnout and avoid a potential repeat of the prior cycle, which saw then-Secretary of State Kemp purge millions of voters from the state’s records throughout his tenure and is the subject of an ongoing legal challenge by Stacy Abram’s voting-rights advocacy group, Fair Fight Action.
Georgia’s elections, having drawn national attention over the course of the last few election cycles, represent a wider trend that has occurred throughout the country, particularly at the cost of local issues. The nationalization of politics across the U.S. has seen local issues, normally a source of bipartisan agreement, supplanted by positions on issues more frequently discussed on national television as opposed to the local evening news. While Atlanta grapples with issues around effective public transportation, reducing traffic and developing affordable housing, with then-Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms having told Focus: that, ”Our biggest challenge is transportation and making sure people can travel freely. We’re finally getting regional cooperation on expanding transit throughout our metro areas. Having reliable, easy access to transportation that can take people from residential areas to job centers is incredibly important…There are so many needs in our community that don’t fit into a specific box.”
Nevertheless some county officials are running on election integrity as a key issue even after the state certified its results with three distinct recounts. Abortion seems poised to become another issue after the revocation of Roe V. Wade and the Supreme Court’s decision to throw the issue back to state legislators. While the elections are underway, it remains unclear what the final results will be, with Georgia having shifted from a reliably-red Republican bastion to a more competitive purple after Democrats’ presidential and senatorial wins in 2020.