Early voting numbers for the July 22 runoff are in. The majority of ballots have been received, though mail-in absentee ballots can still be cast. Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp said in a statement Monday that 159,152 ballots have already been cast. That number includes 134,267 ballots in which people voted in person plus 24,885 mail-in ballots returned. Kemp says that number is about 13 percent of eligible voters. He predicts the Republican runoff could see double digit turnout due to higher profile races.
Seven candidates started out the race, but only two will take it to the finish line. Republican Senate hopefuls David Perdue and Jack Kingston will face off again in the July runoff when voters will choose which GOP candidate will represent them in the general election.
With the legislative session squarely behind him and the bill-signing period over, Gov. Nathan Deal now heads out on the campaign trail. And he’s going to have to defend the measures he signed as well as those he vetoed.
One of the candidates at the top of the Georgia GOP’s ticket this year is 71 years old. That’s Governor Nathan Deal. He faces a 38-year-old Democratic challenger, Jason Carter. And in the contentious U.S. Senate race, Democrat Michelle Nunn has used a highly-visible TV campaign ad to show off her young family as her older Republican opponents duke it out for the primary. But many Republicans say the Democratic candidates’ youth won’t be as much of a factor in the midterm elections later this year. That’s partly because turnout in nonpresidential, off-year elections skews older.
If there can be said to be a front-runner in the GOP primary for Georgia’s open U.S. Senate seat, it might be Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Savannah). The 11-term congressman has so far raised the most money in the race to replace retiring Sen. Saxby Chambliss. In an interview with GPB in late December, Kingston called himself the “consensus conservative” in the race.
Gov. Nathan Deal suspended state Senator Don Balfour on Wednesday following his criminal indictment in September. Deal’s decision came at the recommendation of three fellow Republicans he appointed to sift through the charges. Balfour, a Snellville Republican, faces charges he illegally claimed reimbursements when he wasn't on official state duty. In a hearing Wednesday, Balfour’s attorney, Ken Hodges, argued the expense report errors were inadvertent. And he said a state Senate ethics committee has already determined just that.
The much-debated Common Core school curriculum took center stage at a panel discussion Tuesday in downtown Atlanta. Most panelists said the standards were working fine before a political controversy hijacked the debate.
State Schools Superintendent John Barge officially launched his bid to unseat Gov. Nathan Deal Tuesday. Teachers say it will put school issues at the heart of the 2014 gubernatorial election. But GOP strategists believe it’s a Hail Mary pass by Barge.