Georgia voters will head to the polls again Tuesday to choose which candidates will represent their parties in statewide races in November. In most cases, the runoff will not decide the winner of the race, but will narrow down which republican and democrat voters will choose from later this year.
Among the most contested races this year is the governor’s race. We already know that Stacey Abrams is the democratic nominee, but republican voters will choose between Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle and Secretary of State Brian Kemp to determine who the party will put up against Abrams in November.
Here is everything you need to know about Tuesday’s runoff:
What’s on the Ballot?
The race between Kemp and Cagle has garnered national attention. Most republicans will likely have a strong opinion one way or the other and that could drive turnout. But, there are other races on the ballot that voters may not be as familiar with. Below is a rundown of the statewide races.
Republican voters will be choosing between Casey Cagle and Brian Kemp. Starting in the primaries, this campaign has brought us controversial campaign commercials, secret recordings and accusations of unethical behavior.
Both candidates have been grappling to identify the most with Trump voters and to capitalize on the president’s influence over the republican base.
The outcome of the gubernatorial race could tell us who Georgia republicans trust more. Kemp has secured the endorsement of Donald Trump, which could tilt a close race his way by solidifying his Trumpian credentials.
On the other hand, Cagle has been endorsed by Gov. Nathan Deal. Deal is a popular governor who is the face of the party statewide. Not only are republican voters having to choose between the two candidates, they also have to weigh in which voice they trust more, the local governor or the national party head.
The Direction of the Party
The outcome of the Cagle/Kemp race will also reveal just how red of a state Georgia is. Whether intended or not, the impression many voters have of Cagle is that he is part of Georgia’s republican establishment. Kemp, despite being Secretary of State, has positioned himself as an outsider similar to Trump. His campaign ads have heavily featured guns, and in one ad he claimed he might round up illegal immigrants in his truck.
A Kemp victory would move the party further to the right than it has been under Deal and would be an indicator that President Trump still has wide support in the state. A Cagle victory would mean state republicans favor the local government they have in place and could serve as a referendum on Trump’s rhetoric and policies.
With Cagle running for Governor, his spot as Lieutenant Gov. is open. David Shafer and Geoff Duncan were the last two republicans standing in the primary and face each other in the runoff. The winner of the runoff will face Sarah Riggs Amico in November. In the May 22 primary, Shafer carried 48 percent of the republican vote.
Secretary of State:
Since Kemp is running for Governor, Georgians will also be electing a brand new secretary of state. In the runoff, republicans will choose between two stalwarts of North Fulton politics former Alpharetta Mayor David Belle Isle and District 50 State Rep. Brad Raffensperger from Johns Creek.
Both candidates are well known in their respective cities and are part of the influential North Fulton bloc of the republican party. In the primary, Raffensperger carried 34.9 percent of the vote and Belle Isle carried 28.5 percent, which could mean Raffensperger is more widely known.
The winner of the runoff will face John Barrow in November.
The race for State School Superintendent is a different story entirely. This is the only statewide race that has only a democratic runoff. The candidates are Otha E. Thornton, Jr. and Sid Chapman. The winner will take on incumbent Richard Woods in November. Thornton came out on top in the primary, but with no democratic runoff in the governor’s race and few democratic runoffs overall, this race will likely come down to turnout.
A Couple of Reminders
There are a few rules you need to remember before you vote in the runoff. In Georgia, you can only vote in one party’s primary or runoff. So, If you voted in the primary, you can’t switch parties in the runoff. If you are a democrat who voted for the Stacey of your choice during the primary, you can’t cross over and vote against a republican candidate you don’t like in the runoff. Likewise, if you’re a republican who really wants to vote against a particular candidate on the democratic side, you have to stick with the republican ballot for the runoff.
If you sat out the May 22 primary, you can choose which party’s runoff you vote in. This is because you haven’t declared your allegiance to any party yet, so you’re free to choose a party now.
If you chose the nonpartisan ballot in the primary, you now have to choose a party. There is no nonpartisan runoff, so you are free to pick which party you will vote for in the runoff.