ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia Democrats chose state Rep. Bee Nguyen as their nominee for secretary of state Tuesday in primary runoff elections, voting on a position that assumed new importance after former President Donald Trump cast doubt on Georgia’s 2020 election results by making false claims of widespread voter fraud.
Nguyen defeated former state Rep. Dee Dawkins-Haigler in the primary and is set to challenge Republican incumbent Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in November's general election.
The race was one of four statewide runoffs — along with lieutenant governor, labor commissioner and insurance commissioner — where Democrats were selecting nominees. Republicans were voting in three congressional races, while Democrats have a pair of congressional runoffs.
In the 10th Congressional District east of Atlanta, trucking company owner Mike Collins beat former Democrat Vernon Jones, who had been endorsed by Trump, in a runoff to become the Republican nominee. Collins, the son of former congressman Mac Collins, was narrowly the frontrunner in the eight-candidate May primary, while Trump's endorsement helped push Jones into second place.
The secretary of state race was perhaps the most high profile race on the Democratic side. The importance of the position was highlighted by Raffensperger's appearance Tuesday before the U.S. House Jan. 6 committee.
Trump targeted Raffensperger after the 2020 general election for failing to overturn his narrow loss in the state. Raffensperger — who won the praise of some Democrats for refusing to bend to pressure from the former president — dispatched a challenge from a Trump-endorsed primary challenger without being forced into a runoff.
Nguyen has served in the state House since winning a 2017 special election to succeed Stacey Abrams in a district that includes parts of DeKalb County just east of the Fulton County line and some parts of the city of Atlanta. Nguyen is also a vice chair of the state Democratic Party. Abrams, who endorsed Nguyen in the runoff, is seeking the Democratic nomination for governor after narrowly losing the election to Republican Gov. Brian Kemp in 2018.
With former President Donald Trump and his allies pushing false claims of widespread voter fraud in Georgia, Nguyen has highlighted her work to debunk false narratives. She has also criticized Raffensperger for supporting a sweeping election overhaul passed last year by Republican state lawmakers.
In the 6th District in Atlanta’s northern suburbs, emergency room physician Rich McCormick is trying to hold off Trump-backed lawyer Jake Evans. That race has revolved around accusations by each candidate that the other is insufficiently conservative.
Republicans have high hopes of knocking off 30-year Democratic incumbent Sanford Bishop in southwest Georgia’s 2nd District. The GOP is choosing between former Army officer Jeremy Hunt and real estate developer Chris West in that race.
Democrats in the 10th District, which runs from suburban Atlanta through 18 counties, were having their own runoff Tuesday. Collins will face either Tabitha Johnson-Green or Jessica Fore. The district is drawn to elect a Republican.
Democrats were also settling a runoff in the coastal 1st District, where Wade Herring is trying to keep Joyce Marie Griggs from again being the party’s nominee against incumbent Republican Buddy Carter.
Tuesday's races could be won or lost by small margins as turnout is expected to be very low. In contrast to the May 24 primary, which saw record early voting numbers, fewer than 165,000 people had voted early in person or by mail as of Monday. That includes about 100,000 Democrats and 60,000 Republicans
The candidates facing off in the other statewide Democratic races are Charlie Bailey and Kwanza Hall for lieutenant governor, William Boddie and Nicole Horn for labor commissioner, and Janice Laws Robinson and Raphael Baker for insurance commissioner.
Jeff Amy And Kate Brumback, The Associated Press