Nov 10, 2022
Georgia 2022 Midterm Election Review
After stunning the nation in 2020 voting for President Joe Biden and electing two Democratic Senators, Georgia once again found itself in the center of the political universe for the 2022 midterm election. Although perhaps not as purple as predicted, Georgia cemented its position as a swing state. Republicans easily retained power in the state’s constitutional offices while Democrats continue to hold out hope of retaining a US Senate seat. It appears we will have to wait until a December 6 Senate runoff for Georgians to cast the final vote. Despite a record number of early voters for a midterm election, it appears that total voter turnout will be comparable to the roughly 3.95 million voters who cast ballots in the 2018 midterm election.
In a repeat of 2020, Georgia’s Senate race will be decided in a runoff, with control of the US Senate potentially hanging in the balance. Senator Raphael Warnock (D), who is seeking his first full term, and former Heisman Trophy winner Herschel Walker (R) appear to have both fallen short of the fifty-plus-one margin needed to win outright. Following changes to Georgia’s election laws in 2021, the federal run-off election cycle has been shortened from nine weeks to four. To date, the race has been the most expensive race in the nation. Senator Warnock raised over $130 million and Walker over $30 million. This record-breaking fundraising is unlikely to slow down for either candidate before December 6. So far, this race has been no holds barred and we expect the next few weeks to get even more combative.
Governor Brian Kemp was soundly re-elected last night, earning over 53% of the vote. For the second time, Kemp has defeated former State House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams. The Republican incumbent cruised to victory by emphasizing his administration’s strong record and conservative accomplishments, including his decision to reopen the state after the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. Governor Kemp is also one of the rare candidates who has received backlash from former President Donald Trump. Nevertheless, he has managed to successfully navigate Republican circles. Meanwhile, Leader Abrams, who exceeded expectations in 2018 and was one of the architects of the Democratic wins in 2020, had a difficult time regaining traction with voters. Kemp will look to spend the next four years continuing to build his conservative resume while working with the Republican Governors Association. The now term-limited Republican may also garner some attention in the 2024 Presidential cycle.
Republican State Senator Burt Jones soundly defeated Democrat Charlie Bailey last night to retain the state’s number two seat for the GOP. Jones represents a far more conservative wing of the Republican Party compared to his predecessor. He was the first elected official in Georgia to endorse the Trump campaign in 2016, and one of the few Republicans on the statewide ballot in Georgia to receive the former President’s endorsement this year. Jones is young, popular with the base of the party, and has personal wealth, all which puts him on the shortlist to succeed Kemp in 2026.
Secretary of State
After rising to national prominence following the 2020 elections, incumbent Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger was re-elected last night to a second term. Like Kemp, Raffensperger was able to easily cruise to victory despite being the target of criticism from former President Donald Trump. Raffensperger has proven appeal to independent voters and is also well positioned if he chooses to seek higher office.
Republican Attorney General Chris Carr defeated State Senator Jen Jordan by a margin of 52% to 47% to retain his seat for another term. Carr’s efforts fighting human trafficking and his crackdown on criminal gang activity helped him to victory. Given his background as Chief of Staff to former US Senator Johnny Isakson and a stint as the head of economic development for the state, Carr is seen as another bright star on the GOP bench.
The success of Republicans at the top of the statewide ticket, yielded similar success for Republicans down the ballot. State Senator, and 7th generation farmer, Tyler Harper will succeed Commissioner Gary Black at the helm of the Department of Agriculture. Also moving into higher office will be Bruce Thompson, who will succeed current Labor Commissioner Mark Butler. Insurance Commissioner John King and State School Superintendent Richard Woods both Republicans were also re-elected.
Georgia General Assembly
Also on the ballot last night were all 180 seats in the Georgia House and all 56 seats in the Georgia Senate. However, the biggest news out of the legislature came before the polls opened on election day. Citing health reasons, long-time Speaker David Ralston announced last week that he would not be seeking a seventh term for the top post in the House. During his 13-year tenure, Ralston has risen to be one of the most powerful leaders in the state while often being viewed as a steady hand amidst turnover in the executive branch and state senate. With Ralston stepping down, the General Assembly will look very different in 2023. Although it remains to be seen who will succeed him, the House is certain to remain in Republican control. Despite Democrats picking up a couple of seats in the legislature, Republicans easily retained their majority in the House and Senate.