Dec 13, 2021
Georgia 2022 Mid-term Elections Preview
Continuing the trend from 2020, Georgia is predicted to have an active and expensive election cycle next year. With some big offices, big names and even bigger stakes on the ballot in 2022, Georgia is certain to be a battleground that garners national attention.
The 2022 gubernatorial race in Georgia is beginning to take shape. Last week, former Georgia state Rep. Stacey Abrams announced she will, again, run for governor. Abrams, who was the Democratic nominee for the office in 2018, narrowly lost the race to Republican Brian Kemp. This week, former U.S. Sen. David Perdue announced he will challenge the incumbent, Kemp, for the Republican nomination. In response to the challengers, Kemp released a statement saying he is undaunted by the announcements of either Abrams or Perdue. Two other candidates had already announced their intention to challenge Kemp for the Republican nomination; it will be interesting to see if they remain in the race or seek other opportunities. In a primary that, to date, has no other announced candidates, Abrams currently has a clear path to win her party’s nomination.
In addition to the governor’s race, the state’s junior U.S. Senate seat will once again be on the ballot next year. Sen. Raphael Warnock (D) won the seat in a special election in January to fill the remainder of the term of former U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson. In his bid to win a full term in the U.S. Senate, Warnock will likely face the winner from a crowded field of announced Republican contenders. Among the notable Republicans seeking the party nomination are former Heisman Trophy winner Herschel Walker, endorsed by former President Trump, and current state Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black.
Along with governor, the other seven constitutional officers will also be on the ballot next year. To date, all incumbents have announced they will seek reelection, except Agriculture Commissioner Black and Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan. Several candidates from both parties have announced their intent to also run for these offices.
New District Maps
The Georgia General Assembly adjourned a special legislative session in late November after adopting new district maps for the state House, state Senate and Congress. The 2020 census reported that Georgia gained about 1 million new residents over the past 10 years. Due to this population growth and movement, the state saw rural areas lose population while metro areas gained. The newly drawn maps reflect this trend with a number of legislative seats from rural Georgia transferred to metro areas. Voters in urban areas tend to lean Democratic, which means the growth should, in theory, benefit the Democratic party, while Republicans fare better in rural areas of the state. Under the new maps adopted by the majority Republican legislature, Democrats are projected to pick up a number of seats while Republicans maintain the majority.
Among the congressional changes in the new maps, the 6th District shifted further north to include more Republican areas. Democratic U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath, who currently represents this district, has announced she will stand for election in the neighboring 7th district, currently held by fellow Democrat, Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux. With Democrats expected to retain the 7th district, the redrawn maps should result in the GOP gaining one seat, bringing the balance to nine Republican and five Democratic seats.
If the trends of the last few election cycles continue, Democrats should gain seats in both the state House and Senate, but not enough to wrest control away from the Republican majority. Prior to releasing the new maps, roughly 20 members of the legislature had announced their intention to either seek election to another office or retire from the legislature. Since the maps were adopted, that number has begun to grow. The last few cycles have seen 40 to 45 new members entering the General Assembly. With those seats vacated and potential incumbent losses following redistricting, that number could be as high as 75 next year, which is approximately one-third of the legislature.
Although he is no longer in the White House, there is reason to believe that former President Trump will be heavily involved in the 2022 Georgia elections. In addition to his already announced endorsements, there are rumors that his team may run a slate of candidates, all of whom would have his endorsement. While that would likely give those candidates a leg up with some voters in the Republican primary, it remains to be seen whether that will be enough to win the party nomination or if those voters would support an alternate nominee in the general election.
Money, Money, Money
After setting new records in 2020 and 2021, the elections of 2022 will likely be the most expensive in Georgia history. Abrams is expected to set records in fundraising, with estimates as high as $200 million. Democrats view Abrams, who has a broad national appeal, as a rising star capable of one day reaching the White House. This position will serve her well when it comes to campaign contributions. This, coupled with a competitive party primary, will create a challenge for Republicans trying to keep up.
What does this mean?
One thing is for certain: Georgia is changing. While it may not turn blue in 2022, it looks certain to be more purple than it is today. Midterm discontent with Washington and the Biden administration may be the salvation of the state’s Republicans in the upcoming elections. Either way, it pays to stay alert and to be prepared. McGuireWoods Consulting stands ready for whatever lies ahead. We have a diverse team with a wealth of experience and a deep bench of relationships on both sides of the political aisle. Our goal is to ensure that our clients are strongly positioned regardless of the political dynamics in the state or who wins next year’s elections.
Learn more about our Georgia government relations team, or contact a member of the group directly.